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Glossary of firefighting equipment

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0-9 [ top ]

1 3/4 inch hose: see "attack hose"

2 1/2 inch hose: see "attack hose" or "supply line"

4 inch hose: see "supply line"

A [ top ]

Accelerator (also exhauster): portion of dry-pipe system that bleeds air or shunts air pressure below the clapper valve when sprinkler pipe pressure drop is sensed, thus speeding operation of the valve to fill the system with water.

Adapter: plumbing accessories for connecting hoses and pipes of incompatible diameter, thread, or gender. See also reducer, increaser, double male, double female, water thief. May contain combinations, such as a double-female reducer. Adapters between multiple hoses are called wye, Siamese, or distributor, which see below.

Aerial apparatus: fire truck having an attached extension ladder, nozzle, man-lift-bucket, or similar device raised using power from the truck. May also carry other portable ladders and tools.

Air monitoring meter: electronic device for measuring the presence of one or more chemicals in air, such as oxygen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide or volatile organic compounds; may have preset danger threshold alarms.

Airbags: (1) inflatable device used for lifting or spreading; (2) vehicle safety device with potential explosion hazard during vehicle extrication if not already blown.

Airpack: jargon for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).

Apparatus: Fire engines, trucks, tankers, and combinations; can also refer to other equipment such as the SCBA.

Appliance:Term for fire engine or trucks. Term commonly used for first response vehicles which are crewed by firefighters.

APW: Air-pressurized water fire extinguisher, partially filled with water and then pressurized with an air pump; popular in the US in the 2 1/2-gallon size, rated 2A.

Aqueous Film-Forming Foam (AFFF) (pronounced "A-Triple-F", also called "Class B"): bubbles that act as surfactant to coat and penetrate ordinary fuels (e.g., wood, paper) to prevent them from burning at normal temperatures; also used on "Class B" (oil/gasoline) fires to spread a non-volatile film over the surface of the fuel. Applied using eductor or Compressed air foam system (CAFS) and pumped through firehose to a foam nozzle (or sometimes a less-effective fog nozzle).

Attack hose: (Attack Line) A use classification of a fire fighting hose connected to output of a pump or other pressure source (e.g., gravity). Firehose used to apply water or other fire fighting agent directly to a fire or burning substance. Typically of 2 1/2 inches (65 mm) diameter or less.

Attic ladder: narrow, collapsible ladder used to access an attic space via a scuttle hole, which are often found in closets and other narrow passages. Also known as a closet ladder.

Automatic sprinkler: system of valves and pipes for automatically directing water to a fire when it is detected. May be normally pressurized with water ("wet") or with air ("dry"), depending upon the application. When a sprinkler-head (or sensor) detects fire/heat, the valve opens, releasing the water (hopefully onto the fire).

B [ top ]

Big Guns: Reference the term applied to high volume water/foam delivery devices typically associated with Footprint(TM) process methodologies for storage tank firefighting.

BA: Royal Navy abbreviation for Breathing Apparatus. Otherwise known as SCBA.

Bed Section: the non-extending section of an extension ladder.

Bomb Line: A preconnected attack line, typically 2 1/2 inch in diameter, used in the same manner and purpose as a Trash Line. Bomb Lines are stored either on the front bumper of the apparatus or in an exterior (exposed) side well. Bomb Lines are typically shorter length than Cross Lays, and are intended for use against dumpster fires, etc, where a longer length of hose (and consequent rebedding after the suppression is complete) is not desired.

Booster hose: Small-diameter fire hose (3/4-1 inch), often carried on booster reel, preconnected to pump of an engine (and the booster tank) for putting out small fires near the truck without having to connect to a fire hydrant; easily recovered with a motorized reel. Booster hose is also used for High Pressure Fog (HPF) applications.

Bresnan cellar nozzle: Rotating nozzle tip having two or more outlets forming water jets that propel the tip while spraying water in a circular pattern; conveniently attached to several feet (a meter) of rigid pipe with handles or legs for supporting the nozzle while it is suspended through a hole in the floor above.

Bulk tank: Large tank designed to be transported to an incident and left; larger than a tote tank.

Bunkers (or "bunker gear"): colloquial term for protective pants and boots kept near a firefighter’s bunk (cot) for rapid deployment; more modernly includes firefighting jacket. Basis for command to "Bunker up!" in preparation for hazardous duties. May also refer to entire protective clothing ensemble.

C [ top ]

Cellar fire: Cellar fires are difficult to attack directly because firefighters have to pass through the hot gasses and smoke accumulated on the cellar's ceiling to gain access to the cellar space. Cellars typically do not have good emergency egress points, adding to the danger.

Cellar pipe: Cellar Nozzle. A distributing type nozzle that is inserted through an opening in the floor and into the space below, typically a basement or cellar. The nozzle directs a broken stream horizontally, either extinguishing or controlling the fire enough to allow a direct attack to be safely made. Can also be used on top of other containers.

Charged line: fire hose under pressure from the pump at the engine.

CFA 3-Thread: A type of coupling used by the CFA, it is used mainly on the Australian 64mm hose, it provides a very secure coupling, obviously the threading of the coupling is repeated 3 times, it is non-hermaphrodite.

Check valve: see backflow preventer

Class A, B, C, D, K: Classes of fire extinguisher and corresponding type of fire they extinguish.

Closed-circuit SCBA: See SCBA.

Closet hook: pike pole under 5 ft long

Closet ladder: See Attic ladder.

CO2 extinguisher: Fire extinguisher that releases carbon dioxide gas to smother and cool a fire, such as a flammable liquid.

Combination nozzle: A low pressure Fog Nozzle (usually 120 to 150 lbf/in² or 820 to 1030 [[kilopascal|kPa)) that can be adjusted to produce a near straight stream. Also commonly referred to as a Taskforce Tip (TFT).

Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS): A water / surfactant (foam) mixture, with compressed air forced into the mix. The result is a very homogeneous, small "air bubble" distribution; the resulting suppression agent is the consistency of soggy shaving cream, consisting of relatively pure surface area and little actual water. CAF is gaining favor in selected compartmental fire scenarios because of its high (explosive) conversion rate, on top of the penetrative advantages of the surfactant. It is also inappropriate for many fire scenarios because of that conversion rate, as an unmanaged steam expansion path will cook the firefighters. Secondary advantages are a graceful degradation during equipment failure; CAFs, without a compressed air supply, emit classic foam; without foam, water.

D [ top ]

Deck gun: A master stream device mounted to top deck of pumper.

Delivery: Term for any hose which conveys water onto a fire e.g each outlet from a fire appliance supplies a delivery with water.

Deluge gun: A master stream device that can be positioned on the ground based on the need of the incident commander.

Deluge system: Type of sprinkler system in which sprinkler heads do not have individual valves, and the water (or other extinguishing agent) is disbursed from all sprinkler heads simultaneously when a central (or zoned) valve is triggered by a sensor (or manually). Typically reserved for industrial areas where rapid fire spread must be prevented at the cost of damaging non-burning materials.

Denver Door opener: heavy pry bars connected with a hinge, one with an adjustable foot, used for prying open doors.

Denver tool (also called TNT tool): A combination axe, sledgehammer, pry tool, ram, and D-handle pull tool used to gain forcible entry to buildings, automobiles, etc. during emergency situations.

Detection system: See Alarm system.

Detergent foam: See Aqueous Film Forming Foam.

Distributor pipe: Portion of fire hydrant or sprinkler system connecting main loops to smaller loops where outlets are located.

Double female: firehose adapter for connecting two "male" couplings together; may also adapt different sizes on either side.

Double male: hose coupling adapter with two male-threaded connectors back-to-back; used for connecting two female couplings together.

Dry chemical: A fire extinguishing agent. It works by breaking the chemical chain reaction in the "fire tetrahedron".

Dry hydrant: A fire hydrant with a valve located at the bottom of the barrel, near the water main. The barrel of the hydrant remains dry until used. The prevents the hydrant from freezing in sub-zero temperatures. A dry hydrant is also an unpressurized pipe that can be used to draft (or draw) water from a pond or lake.

Dry powders: Fire extinguishing agents for use on flammable metals. Each agent is typically designed for use on either a single metal or very similar metals.

Dry sprinkler: A sprinkler system having pressurized air (rather than water) in the distribution pipes until a heat-activated sprinkler head opens and releases the pressure, which opens a water valve (and possibly an accelerator valve) to flow water to the open head; used where the protected premises are not heated during freezing temperatures or where pressurized water in overhead sprinkler pipes could create another hazard.

DSU: Distress Signal Unit another term for a type of PASS device.

E [ top ]

Eckert hook: Sharp hook on pike pole for cutting metal siding or roofs.

Engine: A truck outfitted for firefighting, specifically one outfitted to pump water. Generally, vehicles outfitted to pump water are called engines, while those which do not pump water (ladder trucks, tankers, rescues, for example) are not. Many rural fire engines carry a reservoir of water to pump, and use drafting and tankers to obtain further supply. Historically, an "enjin" was a machine that only pumped water.

Eductor: Suction device operated by hose pressure to pull fluid from a reservoir and mix it with the hose stream; often used to add foaming or other materials to water streams.

Ejector: see Smoke ejector.

Ejector Pump: Pumps that use the venturi principle to pump water on a fire ground. Can be used for salvage by removing flood waters or supply water to a fire appliance from an open water source. Water in the appliance is used to supply a flow of water to the ejector pump which uses high pressure nozzles to entrain an increased volume of water in the hose returning to the fire appliance.

Elevator key: control panel override key to take elevator car to desired floor. May also refer to special tool used to open elevator shaft-protection doors from outside.

Encapsulated suit: HAZMAT protective clothing used with SCBA inside the suit to protect a firefighter (HAZMAT technician) from gaseous contaminants. Also known as a Gas Suit.

Encoder: (1) Device for converting an input to a coded output; (2) tone-generating system for broadcasting one or more tone codes on a radio frequency to alert selected pagers and alarms; (3) alarm-system component that transmits coded sensor and subscriber information to a monitoring center to be processed into address and alarm-type information.

Extension ladder: A 20-60 foot ladder with one or more movable sections that extend beyond a base section, typically using a halyard rope and pulley mechanism for lifting and locking cams to latch the moving sections at a selected height.

Extinguisher: Device containing fire suppressant, often pressurized to expel suppressant when triggered by operator or an automatic release mechanism. Important to properly select type of extinguisher appropriate to type of material burning (wood, grease, electrical, etc). May be portable or permanently installed for special suppression purposes, such as fires in aircraft engines, restaurant exhaust hoods, or computer rooms.

Extrication gloves: Work gloves designed for vehicle extrication and other rescue applications, but not rated for firefighting. They resemble mechanics gloves but are made of tougher material, often Kevlar, and designed to protect against cuts from glass and metal.

F [ top ]

Footprint(TM): Application method for extinguishing large diameter storage tank fires or fuels in product depth.

Fire alarm control panel: System for receiving and announcing location of fire based upon input from smoke, flame or heat detectors, or manual call points or pull stations.

Fire axe: There are two main types of axes used in firefighting, a flathead axe, which just has a wedge for cutting into objects. The second type is a pickhead axe which has a cutting wedge on one side, and then a pointed pick for penetration of objects.

Fire department keys: Special keys provided to firefighters to access a lockbox, located on some commercial buildings, containing additional keys required for entry or other safety features.

Fire extinguisher: See Extinguisher above.

Firehose: See also hose, below.

Fire hydrant: See hydrant.

Fireman's key: set of tools used for opening elevator doors from the lobby during rescues; come in many different shapes and sizes, each designed for a specific elevator type.

Fire pump a pump installed in a building specifically for the fire water system.

Fire station alert system: fire department dispatching system using radio controls to activate remote signals at designated fire stations and to transmit emergency information via audio or digital channels.

Fire streams: Water (possibly mixed with foam) emitted at nozzle and directed at burning materials.

FFFP: Fluoroprotein film forming foam.

Fly: The moving portions of an extension ladder.

Fog nozzle: A nozzle that discharges water in small droplets. Often, the nozzles are adjustable, permitting the pattern to range from a straight stream to a narrow fog to a wide fog stream. Can also be designed to automatically adjust pressure depending upon selected pattern.

Fog Stream: A fire stream characterized by small droplets of water. The droplets are unable to travel very far, but absorb heat very quickly because of the high surface area they present.

Foot valve: Backflow preventer at inlet of suction hose used in drafting; helps avoid losing prime by keeping water from running back out of the suction hose.

Fully Envolved:Commonly Refered To As A Structure Fire That's Showing Fire, And Smoke In 50% Of The Structure Or More.

G [ top ]

Glas-Master tool: brand of specialized vehicle extrication tool, most notably including a glass cutting saw for removal of automobile windshields.

Gamewell: brand of wind-up, fire alarm telegraph system for sending coded pulses to alert central alarm station of fire alarm activation; often still found in red boxes on street corners.

Gate valve: See also "Hydrant Gate". Valve in which the shutoff device slides across the flow of liquid to obscure the orifice, usually activated by a screw mechanism. Compare "ball valve."

Gravity tank: Water storage tank for fire protection; arranged above protected area to provide flow of water by gravity when needed.

Fire grenade: glass bottle filled with carbon tetrachloride or similar fire extinguishing fluid; meant to be thrown and shatter at base of fire to mix with air to produce non-combustible mixture; Similar to extinguishers comprised of glass fixtures with spring-loaded clapper released by heat-fusible link. Limited effectiveness, and phased out in 1950s when better extinguishers became available.

Ground ladder: A portable ladder designed to rest on the ground. Compare aerial ladder and roof ladder.

H [ top ]

Halligan tool (or "Hooligan"): forcible entry tool with a pointed pick and a wedge at right angles on one end of a shaft and a fork or cat's paw at the opposite end. Used in combination with maul or flat-headed axe for forcing padlocks, doors and windows. Based upon original design by Hugh Halligan of FDNY. Forms "the irons" when nested with a flathead axe. Various shaft lengths provide mechanical advantage. Derived from the claw tool (fork and hook).

Halon: chemical gas fire extinguishing or liquid agent for diminishing the combustion reaction rate by acting as a thermal ballast; used mainly in closed computer rooms, aircraft, and other high-value installations where corrosive chemicals or water extinguishers are judged inappropriate. Effective at low concentrations (5%) as compared with CO2 (34%). Being phased out with suitable replacements in most applications, with very restricted exemptions, due to international environmental concerns with this and other CFCs.

Halyard: utility rope for raising or lowering moving parts of extension ladder.

Hard suction hose: Non-collapsible sections of hose, usually 10 feet long, used when drafting.

Helmet: developed in the early 1800s, the original firefighter helmets were felt caps and did nothing more than keep water off the firefighters face. Later editions of the fire helmet included leather, metal, fiberglass, and most departments are currently using a form of plastic composite. More information under Bunker gear.

Higbee cut ('Higby cut': A tapered thread termination in a firehose coupling for avoiding cross-threading, the location of which is indicated by a notch cut into a single lug on a hose coupling. If the notches are aligned on mating couplings, the Higbee cuts are aligned and the threads will immediately engage when the swivel fitting is turned.

High Pressure Fog (HPF): A suppression technique consisting of finely atomized water droplets at several hundred pounds per square inch of pressure. By far, one of the most efficient suppression techniques available. Advantages include a *very* high conversion rate, unmatched atmospheric cooling and control of thermal layers, very little wasted water (and consequent water damage), and the ease of managing a small diameter booster line (defined above) during application. Disadvantages are lack of distance, lack of penetration into various materials, and high risk of burns to the attack crew. HPF is quite popular in Europe, but was discarded in the U.S. due to different building construction and the resulting increase in disadvantages.

High-rise pack: Hose bundle prepared for carrying to a standpipe in a high-rise building, usually consisting of 50 or more feet of 1 3/4-inch hose and a combination nozzle.

Hook: forged steel hook at end of insulated pole of varying lengths; used for piercing and pulling building materials away from walls and ceilings. Similar to nautical gaff hook. Short hook with a pointed tip is a pike pole; longer hook on a San Francisco hook; two offset hooks on either side of tip is a universal hook; long p-shaped hook is a Boston rake for pulling plaster and lath; short hook with claw on opposite side of tip is either a gypsum hook or the narrower ceiling hook; pike pole with a short handle is a somewhat useless closet hook.

Hose: flexible conduit for moving liquids under pressure; made of various materials including cotton, rubber or plastic (such as PVC); construction may be braided, woven, wrapped or extruded, often in layers (liner and jacket); hose construction and size differs according to its intended use (e.g., hard suction, attack, forestry, booster); typically stocked in standard lengths and coupled together with standardized fittings. See hose coupling.

Hose bed: part of fire engine (or hose wagon) where hose is stored for transport and easy access; stocked in layers or rows for quick selection of the desired length, diameter and type of hose; may include hoses "pre-connected" to pump outlets on the engine.

Hose bridge: mechanical ramps permitting vehicle tires to roll over top of hose without pinching or damaging the hose. Sudden hose-pinch can cause dangerous backpressures in a running hose and at the pump and release of the pinch can cause a staggering surge at the nozzle end.

Hose cart: See Hose wagon.

Hose coupling: rigid interlocking end-pieces on fire hose; used for connecting hose to hydrants or fire engine pumps and other hose appliances (nozzles, wyes, manifolds, strainers, etc); standardized sizes and threads or other (non-threaded) pressure-sustaining interlocks (e.g., "Storz" or other "quarter-turn" connectors); lugs, cams, or pins are used to tighten and loosen couplings by hand or with a hose wrench.

Hose roller: rigid frame with rollers designed to fit over windowsill or roof parapet to prevent chafing as hose is pulled across it. Can also refer to a machine designed for rolling hoses in preparation for storage.

Hose strap: Similar in purpose to a Rope Hose Tool, a hose strap is typically a single closed loop of nylon webbing, which can be secured to a hose via a girth hitch to aid with hose control and movement.

Hose tower: structure for hoisting hoses to permit them to drain and dry.

Hose wagon: a handcart, vehicle, or trailer adapted for storing and hauling hose and related equipment; used by industrial fire brigades with large buildings, or where supplemental hoses are needed beyond that normally carried on a fire engine; also used for taking attack hose into a high-rise and for returning dirty, wet hose to the station instead of loading the hose bed with the along with dirt and corrosive moisture. Vehicular hose wagon may carry 1,000 to 3,000 feet of hose. May also include small booster pump.

Hose wrench: tool for holding hose couplings against opposite turning forces (tighten/loosen); may be one of several designs for different shapes of cleats or lugs on couplings (round, flat, recessed, etc), and also of different sizes according to the couplings being handled, and come in various combinations to minimize the number of different tools necessary on the fire ground. Also known as a "Spanner wrench".

HPF: See High Pressure Fog.

Hurst tool: See Hydraulic spreader. 'Hux tool: largely obsolete hydrant wrench made of stamped metal with holes sized for the hydrant valve.

Hydrant: pressurized water source for fire engine. May also be a "dry hydrant" for drafting from static water source. Compare "standpipe".

Hydrant Assist Valve: a valve connected to the hydrant by the first due engine allowing the second due engine to boost the pressure in the intake line. Used for hydrants with low pressure, attaching multiple engines to one hydrant, or boosting pressure in the intake line to accommodate for friction loss.

Hydrant Gate: A gate valve used to control water flow through one of the discharge ports on a hydrant with two or more ports. Typically, one fire hose is initially connected to one discharge and the hydrant gate is connected to one or more of the other outlets. This allows a second hose to be connected to a hydrant that is flowing water without shutting down the main valve to make the connection.

Hydrant wrench: tool for opening valve of fire hydrant; may be simple spanner, box wrench, or adjustable wrench, or a specialized tool for use on "anti-vandalism" valves. For example, some valves require a magnet to activate a cam in order for the valve to be turned on.

Hydraulic spreader, (Jaws of Life): mechanical levering device with hydraulic cylinders powered by a pump; used for forcible entry or spreading vehicle or structure parts to permit extrication of a victim. Also called Hurst Tool which is a type that includes cutter and ram/jacking features.

I [ top ]

IAFF: Acronym, "International Association Of Fire Fighters".

IFSTA: Acronym, "International Fire Service Training Association". A major publisher of firefighter training materials.

Indian pump: (aka Indian Tank) A brand of five-gallon water can, or back-pack bladder, featuring a short hose and hand pump for use in wildland firefighting.

Intake: Part of pump where water enters when pump forms partial vacuum.

Irons, or Set of irons: Pairing of a flat-head axe and a Halligan tool. A common combination used in forcible entry operations to gain access for search and rescue as well as interior fire attack.

J [ top ]

Jaws of Life: A Hurst tool. See hydraulic spreader.

J-bar: a stiff, j-shaped tool for reaching an inside door handle.

Jet siphon: A venturi appliance used for moving large amounts of water from one reservoir tank to another by pumping a small amount of pressurized water into the jet to create a vacuum to move larger amounts of water.

K [ top ]

K-tool: A forcible entry tool for disabling cylinder locks; used with a Halligan bar.

Kelly tool: a prying tool much like a Halligan tool without the right-angle pointed tip.

L [ top ]

Ladder truck: A truck outfitted for fire which is operated by a ladder company, and in most cases is not outfitted to pump water. Not to be confused with engine.

Ladder pipe: Nozzle attached to an aerial ladder and used to direct heavy stream from advantageous height.

Landing Valve: Globe Valves which be installed on hydrants branch and hose is connected to coupling of it.

Large Diameter Hose: (LDH) Fire hose with a diameter of 4 inches or greater. LDH is typically used to supply water from a fire hydrant to fire apparatus such as an engine or tanker.

Leatherhead (helmet): a cover or protetive device worn by fire fighters in some countries, also slang denoting a fire fighter.

Left Handed Smoke Shifter: A non-existant device used to torture probationary firefighters during an overhaul phase; a crew chief will send his Probie to fetch one, but no such device actually exists. Each truck the probie visits will consequently "Not have one", or "Another crew just took it," but each truck operator will know for certain that "THAT truck might have one, over there..." The process will repeat until the probie has been to each truck looking for the device, while the crew chief increasingly chides him to "hurry up" over the radio. Similar to military non-objects such as Relative Bearing Grease or winter air for tyres.

Level A, B protective clothing: Different levels of encapsulation of firefighters used during HAZMAT incidents to minimize contamination.

Life net: Portable net for attempting to catch victims falling or jumping from upper floors of burning structure.

Life safety line: A rope used where its failure could result in serious injury; a rope used for connecting a firefighter/rescuer to a fixed anchor point or to another person.

Light Water: An additive to use with water in the extinguishing of petroleum and similar fires.

LMR: Abbreviation for Land Mobile Radio. Component of New Zealand Fire Service communicaitons system between a communcations centre and a fire appliance over a radio network

M [ top ]

Mattydale: A volunteer fire department, located north of Syracuse, NY, credited with the invention of the

Mattydale Lay. The Mattydale Lay is often simply referred to as a "Mattydale", or (now) a "Cross Lay". The engine on which the Mattydale was invented and installed is currently on display at the FASNY museum. Mattydale Lay (Mattydale Load) : The concept of storing preconnected Attack Lines on an engine, as well as storing them such that they are presented at the sides of the apparatus instead of the rear. Commonly called a Cross Lay, the technique allows for rapid deployment of attack lines from either side of the apparatus.

Medium-diameter hose: A hose with diameter between 2½ and 4 inches.

Monitor: Firefighting delivery designed to be established and then left unattended. Typical uses include ground monitors which can be established to deliver water onto large fires or provide a water curtain. Deck Monitors tend to be attended and used to deliver very large water quantities onto the fire. Also known as deluge guns.

Multigas detector: Measuring device designed to indicate concentrations of multiple (typically four) selected gases, such as oxygen, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, hydrogen cyanide, etc.

MDT: Abbreviation for Mobile Data Terminal. Allows data transmission between communication centres and fire appliances over a radio network.

N [ top ]

NFPA: National Fire Protection Association. A standards and "best practice" body for the fire service. Slang: Not For Practical Application. This is firefighter slang referring to the seemingly 'useless' regulations of the NFPA. This phrase is commonly used by rural fire departments whose chiefs or officers operate by traditional methods, instead of "by the book" Slang: No Free Publications Available, referring to publications that "all are encouraged to practice" yet are prohibitively expensive, as in "That standards document is NFPA." The NFPA slang is typically used in smaller fire departments, where such a purchase would be a non-reimbursed out of pocket personal expense. Q.v. .

NH: National Hose thread, also known as NST (National Standard Thread). Commonly used in fire hose couplings, it has a slightly larger thread diameter and coarser pitch (fewer threads per inch) than the alternative NPSH thread. The threads specified in NFPA 1963 are "NH".[1]

NIFTI: Naval InFrared Thermal Imager. A device used aboard naval ships to help locate hotspots where fire or personnel may be located in a dense smoke environment.

Nozzle: A device attached to the end of a fire hose that directs, shapes and regulates the flow of the water or fire fighting agent pumped into the hose. May have a control valve.

Nozzle tip: Portion of firehose that forms the fire stream as it leaves the hose. Can be solid, fog, or other specialty nozzle (e.g., piercing, Bresnan cellar nozzle, wand tip, etc).

NPSH: National Pipe Straight Hose thread, also known as IPT (Iron Pipe Thread, or International Pipe Thread). Like NH threads, NPSH threads are commonly used in fire hose couplings, but the two types are not interchangeable with each other and cannot be connected together without adapters. NPSH threads have a slightly smaller diameter and more threads per inch than NH, but NPSH hoses can be fitted to NPT (National Pipe Tapered) plumbing fixtures, as the diameters and thread pitches are similar.

O [ top ]

Open-circuit SCBA: See SCBA. Exhaled air is not reused by the system.

Outside stem and yoke valve (OS&Y): Type of gate valve actuator arranged such that the valve stem moves in and out of the handle, thus externally indicating whether the valve is open or shut, unlike the more common gate valve wherein the stem rotates and only the gate moves up and down inside the fixture.

P [ top ]

Panic doors, panic hardware: Fire safety appliance permitting locked doors (typically self-closing) to be opened from the inside when pressed with sufficient force, thus permitting a person to open the door without having to turn a knob or lever.

PASS device, personal alert safety system: An alarm device which signals that a firefighter is in trouble. It can be activated manually by the firefighter, or activates automatically if the firefighter stops moving. May be integral to SCBA or separately activated.

Passport (accountability): System in which each firefighter has an identification document that is collected by the person in charge of accounting for the respective individuals in a dangerous area, and returned to the firefighter when he or she leaves the dangerous area.

Pike pole: See Hook.

Pickheaded axe: Standard fire axe having a 6 or 8 pound (2.7 to 3.6 kg) steel head with a cutting blade on one edge and a square, pointed pick on the opposite side. Come in various handle lengths.

Plec-Tron: Jargon, brand-name of early radio-frequency paging system for summoning firefighters.

Pineapple:Tool used in order to assist in suppressing a basement fire.

Plug: Slang term for a fire hydrant. This survives from the days when water mains actually had holes in the tops that were plugged. Many firefighters would like to keep this word while many others think it should be replaced with the accurate term, "hydrant".

Pompier ladder:A style of ladder that is also known as a "Scaling Ladder". It is used to climb from one window to another. It differs from other ladders in that it does not rest on the ground it instead uses a large hook at the top to attach to a window sill. The word "Pompier" is French for fireman.

Portable water tank: Collapsible reservoir used for storing water transported to fireground by tanker. May be inflatable or supported by a frame.

Positive Pressure Ventilation (PPV): Ventilation of an area by the use of a fan to push clean air into that space and controlled use of openings for the escape of smoke and gasses.

Post indicator valve (PIV): A type of valve used for underground sprinkler shutoff, having a lockable actuator atop a post with a window indicating "open" or "shut" status of the valve.

Preconnect: Firehose on a fire engine which has one end connected to a pump outlet, and usually a nozzle attached to the other end. May also be a preconnected inlet hose (e.g., soft suction). Reduces steps at scene of fire.

Pumper: Vehicle apparatus for pumping water and other fire suppressants. See fire engine.

Q [ top ]

Quint: Type of firefighting apparatus with five defining attributes. The Quint truck is both a Pumper and a Ladder truck. A "Quint" has: 1. a pump, 2. hose, 3. a water tank, 4. ground ladders, and 5. an aerial ladder.

R [ top ]

Rabbet Tool: A hand powered portable hydraulic ram, specially designed for insertion between a door and its frame for rapid forcible entry.

Reducer: Plumbing adapter for connecting hoses of two different diameters; may also be double male or double female connections of different sizes.

Relief valve: A valve set to open at a specified pressure so as to not exceed safe operating pressure in hoses or pumps.

Rescue Engine: A single piece of fire apparatus that can operate as either a rescue or an engine. This apparatus normally is outfitted with heavy rescue equipment, hoselines, pump, water tank, etc.

Ringdown (telephone): An Automatic ringdown circuit consists of two phones at different locations. When either phone goes off-hook, the one at the other end instantly rings.

Ringdown (radio): A radio, incorporating a selective calling capability, has an attention-getting device triggered by a dispatching center. A triggered device emits a sound alerting staff at a fire station, in an ambulance, on a vehicular radio or at a vehicular data terminal that an emergency call is pending. The act of ringing down a station may ring bells, activate a klaxon, turn off gas-fired cooking appliances, activate a volunteer alerting siren, turn on lights, and activate loudspeakers over which the call details are announced. Some systems use the voice path of a private line telephone circuit or a voice channel on a microwave radio instead of a two-way radio. Ringing down a vehicle may cause the radio or data terminal itself to beep continually until an "acknowledge" button is pressed.

Rope hose tool: Short strap or rope with a hooks at both ends for wrapping around a charged hose to secure it in position or to assist in moving it.

Roof ladder: A single-section ladder with hooks on one end. The hooks are put over the ridge or peak of a roof to hold the ladder in place. Compare with aerial ladder and ground ladder.

S [ top ]

SCBA: Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, or air-pack, worn by firefighters to protect against breathing toxic fumes and smoke, or where the air has insufficient oxygen. Often incorrectly called "oxygen mask" by laypersons. Typically of open circuit style, with a supply of compressed air, where expired air is exhausted, rather than closed circuit where it is filtered, re-oxygenated from compressed oxygen, and inhaled again — which is used where an air supply is needed for an extended period (up to four hours).

Slip-on: A small water pump and tank that can be temporarily mounted on a pickup or other truck.

Self-contained breathing apparatus: see SCBA

Shove knife: semi-rigid metallic blade of various shapes and sizes used for forcing spring latches during forcible entry.

Siamese: hose coupling for merging two streams into one, i.e., two female coupling inlets and one male coupling outlet.

Small-diameter hose: Generally accepted to be fire hose 3" or less in diameter.

Smoke detector: (1) part of a fire alarm system that detects and signals presence of smoke; (2) self-contained household device for same purpose as (1) but with its own noisemaking device.

Smoke ejector: Powerful fan for moving large amounts of air and smoke as part of ventilation task while fighting fire in a burning structure. May be operated by electricity or gas motor for positive or negative pressure ventilation.

Soda-acid extinguisher: Weak water/acid solution inside a pressure vessel which activates bicarbonate of soda when triggered, expelling "water" (mixture) under pressure from the resulting carbon dioxide. Obsolete and often replaced with an APW or multipurpose extinguisher.

Soft suction hose, soft sleeve: A short piece of fire hose, usually 10 to 20 feet long, of large diameter, greater than 2.5 inches (65 mm) and as large as 6 inches, used to move water from a fire hydrant to the fire engine, when the fire apparatus is parked close to the hydrant.

Solid Stream: A fire-fighting water stream emitted from a smooth-bore nozzle. This fire-fighting stream has the greatest reach and largest drops of water.

Spanner: rigid tool for tightening or loosening firehose couplings.

Special egress control device: Locking device on doors used for delaying opening for short period (10-15 seconds) after release is pressed. Permitted as panic hardware in limited circumstances. May also refer to a security system that releases electronic door locks when a fire alarm is activated, such as in stairwells of a high-rise building.

Spray nozzle: See fog nozzle.

Sprinkler system: fire suppression system in a building, typically activated by individual heat-sensitive valves, or remotely controlled by other types of sensors, releasing water onto the fire. May be "wet" (water-filled) or "dry" (air-pressurized).

Standpipe: system of pipes inside a building for conducting water for firehose attachments; may be pressurized with water ("wet") or remain "dry" until activated in an emergency; supplied either from a fire hydrant attachment or from a fire engine's pump. Permits firefighters to reach higher levels of tall buildings without having to run hoses up the stairs.

Steamer connection: A Siamese inlet to a standpipe or sprinkler system. Named for early application of steam engines for pumps.

Steamer outlet: Large outlet of fire hydrant.

Storz coupling: A type of coupling used on fire hose. The coupling is sexless, and secures with a 1/4 turn of the coupling. The coupling may or may not have some sort of locking device.

Straight Stream: A fire-fighting water stream generated by a combination nozzle, characterized by a long reach and large water drops. It is essentially the narrowest of fog patterns that can be produced.

Strainer: 1) A large metal device attached to the end of a suction hose that prevents debris from entering the hose or the pump when drawing water from a pond or other body of water. 2) A stationary accumulation of debris in a moving body of water.

Suction hose: A large, semi-flexible and non collapsible hose used to move water from a static source such as a pond, pool or storage tank to a fire pump by means of suction. The whole process is often known as "drafting". Should not be used to connect pressurized hydrants to pumps.

Supply line, supply hose, large-diameter hose: fire hose, usually larger than 2.5 inches in diameter, used to transport water from one source to another, such as from a hydrant to a fire engine or from one engine to another. Short pieces of this hose used to attach to a hydrant are often called "Soft Suction" (see above).

T [ top ]

Tag accountability: System in which each firefighter is issued two identification tags, one of which is then collected by a safety officer and held while the firefighter is in a hazardous area. To reclaim the tag, the firefighter must present the matching tag upon exit from the hazard. Any unclaimed tags after an "event" (such as a collapse or explosion) means the corresponding firefighters are missing. May be implemented as passport system in which first tag is presented to staging officer upon arrival (for tracking) and second tag is held by IDLH safety officer, as above.

Tanker, Tender - Large, mobile tank of water or other firefighting agent; may be airborne, as used in wildland firefighting, or truck-mounted. Essential in rural areas lacking hydrants.

Taskforce Tip: (TFT) Task Force Tips a popular brand of adjustable fog stream Combination Nozzle, now a ubiquitous term for that type of nozzle.

Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC) - Ruggedized infrared equipment used by some firefighters to detect hidden people, animals, heat sources (i.e., fire) and structural compromise.

Tones : A series of two or three musical notes, used as an auditory alert over a radio or radio-paging system to indicate that a particular fire company, district, or territory is dispatched to service on a particular incident.

Toned out : A term used to indicate when a fire company is or was dispatched to an incident. See tones above. Can be used in present tense ("We've been toned out, I've got to go.") or past tense ("We were toned out at 2300 on that run.")

Tower ladder: See aerial ladder.

Trash Line: A preconnected attack line that is typically 1 3/4" diameter, and stored either on the front bumper of the apparatus or in an exterior (exposed) side well. Trash Lines are typically shorter length than Cross Lays, and are intended for use against dumpster fires, etc, where a longer length of hose (and consequent rebedding after the suppression is complete) is not desired.

Triple combination engine company - apparatus carries water, pumps water, carries hose and other equipment; firefighters who may carry out direct attack or support other engine companies.

Triple Lay("Triple Fold", "Triple Load") : A method of loading preconnected attack line into a hose bed or crosslay, often facilitating rapid hose deployment in a pre-flaked configuration.

Truckie: A firefighter typically responsible for tactical aerial operations, ventilation, search, and overhaul.

Turnout gear: The protective clothing worn by firefighters, made of a fire-resistant material such as Nomex or Aramid, and designed to shield against extreme heat. Sometimes called bunker gear. See PPE. Includes helmet, jacket and boots, and some departments include fire-resistant pants.

Turntable - rotating base of an aerial ladder that permits the ladder to be elevated and extended in any direction from a fixed location.

U [ top ]

Utility rope: A rope not designed or maintained for life safety purposes.

V [ top ]

Valve: mechanical means for stopping and starting flow in a conduit; many types used in firefighting, including gate–, foot–, clapper– (backflow preventers), sprinkler-heads, etc.

Ventilation saw: A high-powered saw with metal-cutting teeth or disc for quickly making large openings in roofing materials.

W [ top ]

Wall-indicator valve: Type of control valve for sprinkler systems which is mounted to an outside wall and indicates "open" or "shut" in an indicator window on the valve body.

Water curtain nozzle: A nozzle designed to throw a fan of water droplets to form a "curtain" in an attempt to reduce radiated heat from igniting a nearby exposure.

Water flow alarm: An audible alarm indicating that one or more sprinkler heads have been activated.

Water mist fire suppression A sprinkler-like system that uses a very fine mist featuring much lower water flow than conventional sprinklers to suppress, rather than extinguish, a fire.

Water tender: a vehicle that contains a substantial tank of water as well as a pump.

Water thief (valve): Type of gated wye having one or more outlets smaller than the largest outlet.

Wedges: Wooden blocks for temporary shut-off of activated sprinkler heads or holding doors open during firefighting or rescue operations.

Wet pipe sprinkler system: Sprinkler system containing pressurized water rather than air, such that water will flow immediately upon release of a heat-sensitive head.

"Wet water": Water into which a surface tension reducing agent has been introduced. The resultant mixture, with its reduced surface tension, is more able to penetrate burning product more deeply and extinguish deep seated fire.

Wye: hose coupling for splitting one line into two or more outlets, often a larger line split into two smaller ones; often a gated wye having separate valves for each outlet. Not to be confused with Siamese, which is used to bring two smaller lines together into one.

Y [ top ]

Y-connect: See wye.

Z [ top ]

Z-adapter: Large hose appliance for connecting supplemental pumps into long supply lines, in the form of a "Z"; may be improvised from two gated wye valves and a double female between two of the gated outlets or from a siamese that has one inlet connected to one outlet of a gated wye.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

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