A fire fighting spray nozzle is used to disperse water, foam or other media in order to control, extinguish or prevent the spread of flames. There are many different fire nozzles on the market and the correct type of nozzle to use depends on the specific situation at hand. The types of nozzles vary by design, spray pattern, thread size and more. The right nozzle can make all the difference in protecting people, property and assets.
There are a wide variety of industrial nozzles for use in open deluge, water wall and water mist fire protection systems. These nozzles are designed for harsh environments and often must meet stringent third party testing standards such as Factory Mutual, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Lloyd’s Register or the U.S. Coast Guard to be approved for use on offshore oil and gas platforms, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage tanks, shipyards, chemical plants and other valuable industrial complexes and facilities.
NFPA 1964, the standard for fire nozzles, establishes guidelines for how nozzles should be constructed and what kind of spray patterns they should produce. The type of nozzle required by a particular situation will depend on the size of the fire, whether there is an underlying combustible material present and other factors. For instance, a fire at a plastic production facility could quickly grow into an engulfing inferno if the workers were not protected.
In this situation a nozzle with a narrow, straight stream and high heat absorption capacity is required. A specialized nozzle with an aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) or water/foam mix would be ideal for this application.
If the hazard involves a combustible material that is difficult to reach with water, a more directed cone of spray can be beneficial. This can protect the area from the effect of the fire and give a safe exit for people to take. There are nozzles that can also be configured to be ‘water corridor’ nozzles, dispersing a path of water through an area to help people escape in the event of a building collapse or other disaster.
The needs of wildland firefighters are very different from those of structural fire fighters. Wildland firefighters need a versatile fire truck nozzle that provides precise water delivery with extended reach and penetration. A straight tip nozzle is ideal in these situations because it delivers an unaltered stream of water. It can be adjusted by adding stack tips or removing them to alter spray angle as required for the specific task at hand.
Firefighters also require a nozzle that can be used with varying nozzle pressures, allowing them to reduce engine wear by using a low nozzle pressure for fire control activities. For example, a firefighter may need to use a nozzle at 50 PSI when tackling small fires that are close to the pump or vehicle, but higher nozzle pressures will result in more nozzle reaction against the operator’s body, potentially causing injury.