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6 ways to get the most out of your LDH

Tools and accessories can extend the life of your large-diameter hose and help reduce firefighter injury


A firefighter disconnects LDH during a training exercise.

Photo/USAF, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee

The adoption of large diameter hose (LDH) – hose greater than 3½ inches in diameter –by fire departments has helped improve firefighters’ ability to provide water supply for fire suppression operations. But, having LDH in the hosebed of your fire apparatus is only one part of the water supply equation.

How well is your department equipped to safely, effectively and efficiently use LDH? How seamlessly can your department integrate LDH with its fire apparatus and with apparatus operated by your mutual-aid partners? Do your members have the equipment to use LDH with minimal risk of injury, particularly back injuries?

Here are six things to consider when evaluating how well-equipped your department is to get the most out of its LDH.

1. Adapters take LDH use beyond water supply

Storz adapters have become necessary pieces of equipment as the use of LDH has become more commonplace in the fire service. LDH is being used for many other operational applications besides water supply, from a fire hydrant to a pumper at the fire scene. Such applications include:

  • Integrating LDH with smaller-diameter fire hoses;
  • Integrating LDH with larger-diameter hoses;
  • Integrating LDH with fire hydrants that have different diameter steamer connections, which may not have a Storz connection or may have a different size Storz connection (e.g., 4-inch Storz on the hydrant and your department uses 5-inch hose); and
  • Working with mutual-aid fire departments that may not use LDH and are lacking adapters.

Fire departments should collect and analyze data for these potential applications and work to acquire the necessary LDH adapters to overcome potential pitfalls on the fire scene.

2. LDH appliances provide a solution to access challenges

In the same vein, many departments are increasingly using LDH as their go-to hose for supplying fire suppression handlines. Today, we see many occupancies designed in a manner that seek to complement the natural surroundings of the environment. These occupancies (e.g., apartment complexes, retail shopping complexes, medical campuses and massive hotel/resort complexes) present firefighters with substantial grade differences between sides of the structure, narrow access points or long setbacks from the primary entrance road.

Fire departments can overcome these access challenges by using LDH to provide a water supply line that can supply multiple handlines or master stream devices using a manifold, or water thief.

The lightweight 3-way LDH manifold and 5-way LDH manifold from Harrington LDH Systems Specialists can supply multiple smaller diameter lines from one LDH line. The manifolds have an adjustable pressure relief valve and a liquid-filled pressure gauge.

The manifolds also have one straight-through LDH outlet so the same water supply can continue to another manifold at another location on the fire scene. Consider this: You could stretch one LDH line along Side B of an apartment complex fire, and with a couple of manifolds, be able to supply four or more 2½-inch handlines or a couple of master stream devices.

The 2-way Siamese, also from Harrington, is a lightweight, single-clapper Siamese for supplying one LDH line from two smaller lines. The one-clapper design will close off the non-pressurized inlet while permitting flow from the pressurized inlet.

3. Racks and rollers relieve the back-breaking burden of LDH rolling and reloading

The draining, rolling and reloading of LDH back on to fire apparatus presents a significant physical challenge to firefighters and exposes them to the risk of injury, especially back injuries. This is particularly true when one considers that these tasks are being done by firefighters who are already physically fatigued from fire suppression operations. It’s also a task that’s frequently done in a hurry using improper lifting techniques because everyone just wants to get the hose loaded and go back to the station.

RollNRack manufactures several devices for the rolling and loading various diameter fire hoses, up to 6-inch LDH. RollNRack devices are designed so that firefighters can safely, effectively and efficiently drain, roll and reload LDH back on their fire apparatus with minimal risk of injury. The Power Roller XL fire hose roller is a fully motorized system that takes much of the physical exertion out of the rolling and loading of LDH.

4. LDH connections to fire hydrants are made easy with retrofitting converters

Many fire departments and the localities they serve are retrofitting the steamer connection on their fire hydrants with Storz connections to facilitate more effective and efficient connection of LDH. Storz connection to fire hydrant converters are a cost-effective means of such retrofitting.

The StorzHyConverter from Kochek Fire Equipment fits on a socket wrench to allow tightening of a Storz hydrant converter during installation. The tool makes installation faster and easier and works with both 5-inch and 4-inch Storz connections.

5. Protective equipment extends the service life of your LDH

Despite the best efforts of personnel to keep LDH out of the road when laying into a fire, sometimes it just can’t be avoided. Combine that with many civilian drivers who are in such a hurry to get somewhere that they disregard the efforts of your people, and those of law enforcement officers, and you have drivers attempting to cross your LDH – usually with a poor outcome for your LDH and the drivers’ vehicles.

The solution: hose bridges. Hose bridges should be “must-have” equipment for any department that uses LDH, and not just to protect your LDH from civilian drivers.

As a battalion chief, I arrived at the scene of a working house fire only to find that my first-in truck company’s apparatus was out of commission in front of the house. The aerial apparatus driver crossed over the 5-inch LDH laid in by the first-in engine company, and the LDH couplings ripped the oil pan out from under the motor. When the motor lost oil pressure, the on-board computer system shut down the apparatus to avoid damaging the motor.

Chafing blocks are another piece of protective equipment for your LDH, particularly for lines coming into or going out of the fire apparatus pump. The vibration from the pump and the running apparatus motor create an abrasive action that’s damaging to LDH.

6. Hand tools and accessories can augment your use of LDH

The Nicol Hose Hook enables firefighters to move charged LDH, remove kinks or clear the way for fire operations while reducing the risk of back injuries. The hose hook is 48-inches long and has a pultruded fiberglass shaft, a large D-grip handle, and a coated welded steel hook to prevent damaging the LDH.

The Large-Diameter Hose Strap enables firefighters to more safely pull LDH from the hose bed for attachment to a water source and allow the engine to proceed for fire operations. The strap uses 3-inch nylon webbing, has a tensile strength of 22,550 pounds and uses strong stitching with heavy brass rivets to provide better service life.

The hose strap also allows firefighters to place the strap over a hydrant, eliminating the need to wrap LDH around the hydrant to secure it. Additional hose secured with the hook and loop strap allows plenty of spare hose for attachment.

A hose roller is a valuable tool that enables two firefighters to more safely, effectively and efficiently drain water and air from LDH before reloading on the fire apparatus. The hose roller is 18 inches wide and has a handle on each side that enables firefighters to easily walk the length of LDH while its polyurethane rollers protect LDH.

A hose clamp that’s designed for use with LDH can make the replacement of a damaged section of LDH a less dangerous endeavor for firefighters. The most prevalent type of LDH hose clamp is the screw-down variety with a wide handle that gives the firefighter enough torque to safely and effectively shut down the flow of water without damaging the LDH. Be sure that any hose clamps your department purchases are designed to work with the diameter LDH that your department uses.

Does your department have all the tools necessary to get the most out of your investment in LDH?

Battalion Chief Robert Avsec (ret.) served with the Chesterfield (Virginia) Fire & EMS Department for 26 years. He was an instructor for fire, EMS and hazardous materials courses at the local, state and federal levels, which included more than 10 years with the National Fire Academy. Chief Avsec earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s degree in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University. He is a 2001 graduate of the National Fire Academy’s EFO Program. Beyond his writing for and, Avsec authors the blog Talking “Shop” 4 Fire & EMS and has published his first book, “Successful Transformational Change in a Fire and EMS Department: How a Focused Team Created a Revenue Recovery Program in Six Months – From Scratch.” Connect with Avsec on LinkedIn or via email.