Sunday May 30, 2021’s Smile of the Day: The Fire Hose

On this Day:

In 1821, James Boyd patented the Rubber Fire Hose. However there is much to learn here – indeed it is like drinking from a fire hose…

A fire hose (or firehose) is a high-pressure hose that carries water or other fire retardant (such as foam) to a fire to extinguish it. Outdoors, it attaches either to a fire engine or a fire hydrant. Indoors, it can permanently attach to a building’s standpipe or plumbing system.

The usual working pressure of a firehose can vary between 8 and 20 bar (800 and 2,000 kPa; 116 and 290 psi) while per the NFPA 1961 Fire Hose Standard, its bursting pressure is in excess of 110 bar. (11,000kPa; 1600psi) Hose is one of the basic, essential pieces of fire-fighting equipment. It is necessary to convey water either from an open water supply, or pressurized water supply. Hoses are divided into two categories, based on their use: suction hose, and delivery hose.

After use, a fire hose is usually hung to dry, because standing water that remains in a hose for a long time can deteriorate the material and render it unreliable or unusable. Therefore, the typical fire station often has a high structure to accommodate the length of a hose for such preventive maintenance, known as a hose tower.

But back to the history of the fire hose…

Boyd & Sons was founded in 1819 at Boston, Massachusetts by James Boyd, an Irish Immigrant. James was the son of Hugh and Mary Patton Boyd, and was born in Newtownand, Ireland on November 11, 1793. He married Margaret Curry of Cainey Caw, Ireland in 1815 and came to Boston in 1817. His firm was well known as saddlers and manufacturer of leather fire hose, buckets and helmets and general fireman’s supplies. The Boston firm was also a well established accoutrement maker for the U.S. Government.  During  the Civil War James Boyd’s son Alexander Boyd continued the business.

In 1819, James Boyd began manufacturing fire hose in Boston, Massachusetts. Two years later his first patent – for the rubber-lined fire hose – revolutionized firefighting by making it possible to pump water through hose, rather than draw it by suction. At the time, the Mayor of Boston reported a 100 feet of Boyd’s fire hose would do the same work as 60 men – and do it more efficiently, faster and safer.

James Boyd became a member of the Boston volunteer fire department.. He was the founder of  the Charitable Association of the Boston Fire Department and drew up its constitution and by-laws in 1828. This Charitable Association was the first of its kind in the country to be originated for the benefit of the fire fighters injured in the line of duty.  He was elected the president of the board of trustees from May 1838 to January 1839 when he retired. He died in Boston in 1855 ( from 

But the story of the fire hose did not start with James Boyd.

Until the mid-19th century, most fires were fought by water transported to the scene in buckets. Original hand pumpers discharged their water through a small pipe or monitor attached to the top of the pump tub. It was not until the late 1860s that hoses became widely available to convey water more easily from the hand pumps, and later steam pumpers, to the fire.

In Amsterdam in the Dutch Republic, the Superintendent of the Fire Brigade, Jan van der Heyden, and his son Nicholaas took firefighting to its next step with the fashioning of the first fire hose in 1673. These 50-foot (15 m) lengths of leather were sewn together like a boot leg. Even with the limitations of pressure, the attachment of the hose to the gooseneck nozzle allowed closer approaches and more accurate water application. Van der Heyden was also credited with an early version of a suction hose using wire to keep it rigid. In the United States, the fire hose was introduced in Philadelphia in 1794. This canvas hose proved insufficiently durable, and sewn leather hose was then used. The sewn leather hose tended to burst, so a hose fabricated of leather fastened together with copper rivets and washers was invented by members of Philadelphia’s Humane Hose Company.

Around 1890, unlined fire hoses made of circular woven linen yarns began to replace leather hoses. They were certainly much lighter. As the hose fibers, made of flax, became wet, they swelled up and tightened the weave, causing the hose to become watertight. Unlined hoses, because of their lack of durability, were rapidly replaced with rubber hoses in municipal fire service use. They continued to be used on interior hose lines and hose racks until the 1960s to 1980s. In January 1981, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration revised their standards such that unlined hoses were to no longer be installed for interior hose lines.

Following the invention of the vulcanization process as a means of curing raw soft rubber into a harder, more useful product, the fire service slowly made the transition from bulky and unreliable leather hose to the unlined linen hose, then to a multi-layer, rubber lined and coated hose with interior fabric reinforcement. This rubber hose was as bulky, heavy, and stiff as a leather hose, but was not prone to leaking. It also proved more durable than unlined linen hose. Its wrapped construction resembled some hoses used today by industry, for example, fuel delivery hoses used to service airliners.

Modern fire hoses use a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics and elastomers in their construction. These materials allow the hoses to be stored wet without rotting and to resist the damaging effects of exposure to sunlight and chemicals. Modern hoses are lighter weight than older designs, which has reduced the physical strain on firefighters. Various devices are becoming more prevalent to remove air from the interior of fire hose, commonly referred to as fire hose vacuums. This makes hoses smaller and somewhat rigid, allowing more hose to be packed into the same compartment on a fire-fighting apparatus.

Suction Hose

Suction hose is laid down on the suction side of the pump (inlet) where the water passing through it is at a pressure either below or above that of the atmosphere. It is designed to resist internal and external pressure. It should have sufficient strength to withstand the pressure of external air when a vacuum has formed inside. It should also be strong enough to resist hydrant pressure. Usually an appliance has to carry about 10 m of suction hose in either 3 m or 2.5 m length. The diameter of the hose depends on the capacity of the pump, and three standard sizes such as 75mm, 100mm, and 140mm are generally used.

Partially Embedded suction hose

Partially Embedded suction hose is usually made of a tough rubber lining embedded fully as a spiral, with tempered, galvanized steel wire. This embedding is arranged so that it provides a full waterway and a relatively smooth internal surface. The wall of the hose is prepared from several layers of canvas and rubber lining so that turns of each one lie midway between turns of the other. The complete wall is consolidated by vulcanizing.

Fully embedded (smooth bore) suction hose

Fully embedded (smooth bore) suction hose has a thick, internal rubber lining embedded fully with a spiral of wire. Suction hose should be constructed to withstand a pressure of 10.5 bar.

Delivery Hose

Delivery hose is laid down from the delivery side of the pump (outlet), and the water passing through it is always at a pressure greater than that of the atmosphere. Delivery hose is divided into two categories: percolating hose, and non-percolating hose.

Percolating hose Percolating hose is used mainly to fight forest fires. The seepage of water through the hose protects the hose against damage by glowing embers falling onto it or the hose being laid on hot ground.

Non-percolating hose In fire services, non-percolating hoses are generally used for delivering water. Non-percolating hose consists of a reinforced jacket made from polyester or nylon yarns. This type of hose has an inner lining of vulcanized rubber fixed to the jacket by an adhesive. The use of non-percolating hose is recommended in certain applications, as friction losses will be much less than that of percolating hoses.

Lined hose are divided into 3 types:

Type 1: Lined hose without external jacket treatment: Such hose absorbs liquid into reinforcement jacket and requires drying after use.

Type 2: Coated lined hose: This has a thin, elastic outer coating that reduces liquid absorption into the jacket and may slightly improve abrasion resistance.

Type 3: Covered lined hose: Covered lined hose has a thicker elastic cover that prevents liquid absorption but also adds substantial improvements to abrasion and heat resistance (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

Did you hear about the award they gave to the firefighter who excelled in fighting fires single handed with only his fire hose?  They named him: “Most extinguished”…

Second, a Song:

Today is a Two’fer:

First, “Fire” is a song written by Bruce Springsteen in 1977 which had its highest profile as a 1978 single release by the Pointer Sisters.

Bruce Springsteen envisioned “Fire” as a song which could be recorded by his idol Elvis Presley. It was written after Springsteen saw Presley perform at a May 28, 1977 concert at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Springsteen said, “I sent [Elvis] a demo of it but he died before it arrived.”

Springsteen completed a studio recording of “Fire” on June 17, 1977, which was one of 52 tracks at least partially recorded which did not make the cut for his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town as they were considered inconsistent with his thematic vision for the album. Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau speculated Springsteen had a special concern that, if included on Darkness on the Edge of Town, “Fire” would be Columbia Records’ single of choice despite not being representative of the album as a whole.

Despite his disinterest in releasing his own version of “Fire” Springsteen was reportedly upset when the Pointer Sisters version of the song reached #2 in February 1979. At that point Springsteen’s most successful single remained “Born to Run” which had reached #23 in 1975. The Pointer Sisters were actually the second act to score a smash hit with a Springsteen cover, with Manfred Mann’s Earth Band having taken “Blinded by the Light” to #1 in 1977. Additionally, “Because the Night” had been a #13 hit for Patti Smith in 1978, having begun as an unfinished Springsteen song he originally meant to record himself. Springsteen finally scored his own inaugural top 10 hit in 1980 with “Hungry Heart” which was his first single release subsequent to the Pointer Sisters’ success with “Fire” (Springsteen had in fact written “Hungry Heart” for the Ramones but was persuaded by his manager/producer Jon Landau that the song was the ideal vehicle to break Springsteen as a major singles artist).

Its omission from the Darkness on the Edge of Town album notwithstanding, “Fire” was included in the set list of the Darkness Tour and has been a Springsteen concert staple since then. On the 1986 Springsteen concert album Live/1975-85 “Fire” is represented by a December 16, 1978 performance at Winterland in San Francisco. Issued as a single, this version of “Fire” reached no. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also charted in Ireland (no. 18), the UK (no. 54), and Australia (no. 82). The music video to promote the single was an acoustic performance of the song by Springsteen at a Bridge School Benefit concert in 1986.

The studio version of “Fire” was first released on The Promise box set (but the lead vocal was re-recorded in 2010, and overdubbed, replacing the original) and a video version appeared on the associated The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge Of Town Story as part of the Thrill Hill Vault Houston ’78 Bootleg: House Cut DVD. 

The Pointer Sisters are an American R&B singing group from Oakland, California, that achieved mainstream success during the 1970s and 1980s. Spanning over four decades, their repertoire has included such diverse genres as pop, disco, jazz, electronic music, bebop, blues, soul, funk, dance, country, and rock. The Pointer Sisters have won three Grammy Awards and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1994. The group had 13 US top 20 hits between 1973 and 1985.

The group had its origins when sisters June and Bonnie Pointer began performing in clubs in 1969 as “Pointers, a Pair”. The line-up grew to a trio when sister Anita joined them. They got a record deal with Atlantic Records and released several unsuccessful singles. The trio grew to a quartet when sister Ruth joined in December 1972. They then signed with Blue Thumb Records, recorded their debut album, and began seeing more success, winning a Grammy Award in 1975 for Best Country Vocal Performance for “Fairytale” (1974). Bonnie left the group in 1978 to commence a solo career with modest success.

The group achieved its greatest commercial success as a trio during the 1980s consisting of the line-up of June, Ruth, and Anita, winning two more Grammys for the top 10 hits “Automatic” and “Jump (For My Love)”, both from 1984. The group’s other U.S. top 10 hits are “Fire” (1979), “He’s So Shy” (1980), “Slow Hand” (1981), the remixed version of “I’m So Excited” (1984), and “Neutron Dance” (1985).

The first single by the Pointer Sisters as the trio of Anita, June and Ruth Pointer, “Fire” was recorded for the group’s November 1978 album release Energy with Anita Pointer on lead. Record producer Richard Perry had introduced the song to the Pointers by playing them a tape of Bruce Springsteen singing it, causing Anita Pointer to say: “It’s too low for me: I guess you want Ruthie to sing it” to which Perry replied: “No – I want you to sing it.” Knight Ridder music critic Christine Arnold cited “Fire” as “Energy ‘s [main] highlight……Springsteen has created a song that might well have been done by the Ronettes in the ’60s, and the Pointers inherit and develop the legacy nicely. Lyrically it’s a simple song, but one that captures the indecision of a woman who wants and does not want a man all at the same time. And when the Pointers sing [the lyric] fire it’s enough to sear your turntable.”Rising to No. 2 on the Hot 100 in Billboard magazine in February 1979 (behind Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”), “Fire” was eventually tied with “Slow Hand” (1981) as the Pointer Sisters’ highest-charting single. A hit on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Adult Contemporary charts at respectively No. 14 and No. 22, “Fire” also afforded the Pointer Sisters an international chart hit, reaching No. 1 in Belgium, the Netherlands, South Africa and New Zealand, and charting in Australia (No. 7), Austria (No. 10), Canada (No. 3), Germany (No. 35) and the UK (No. 34).Anita Pointer recalled, “[‘Fire’] became [the Pointer Sisters’] first gold single: we had had gold albums before but I didn’t realize what a difference a gold single made ’cause…that one song [is played] over and over all over the world. [‘Fire’] really became a major hit for us and made a total difference in our career.”Billboard named the song No. 48 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time (per Wikipedia).

Here are the Pointer Sisters in their version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Fire”.  I hope  you enjoy this!


And Secondly:

Robin McLaurin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was an American actor and comedian. Known for his improvisational skills and the wide variety of characters he created on the spur of the moment and portrayed on film, in dramas and comedies alike, he is often regarded as one of the best comedians of all time. Williams began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles during the mid-1970s, and rose to fame playing the alien Mork in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978–1982).

After his first starring film role in Popeye (1980), Williams starred in several critically and commercially successful films including The World According to Garp (1982), Moscow on the Hudson (1984), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), Awakenings (1990), The Fisher King (1991), Patch Adams (1998), One Hour Photo (2002), and World’s Greatest Dad (2009). He also starred in box office successes such as Hook (1991), Aladdin (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Jumanji (1995), The Birdcage (1996), Good Will Hunting (1997), and the Night at the Museum trilogy (2006–2014). He was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for Good Will Hunting. He also received two Primetime Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards.

Elmer J. Fudd is a fictional cartoon character in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies series, and an adversary of Bugs Bunny. He has one of the more disputed origins in the Warner Bros. cartoon pantheon (second only to Bugs himself). His aim is to hunt Bugs, but he usually ends up seriously injuring himself and other antagonizing characters. He speaks in an unusual way, replacing his Rs and Ls with Ws, so he often refers to Bugs Bunny as a “scwewy” or “wascawwy (rascally) wabbit”. Elmer’s signature catchphrase is, “Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits”, as well as his trademark laughter.

The best known Elmer Fudd cartoons include Chuck Jones’ work What’s Opera, Doc? (one of the few times Fudd bested Bugs, though he felt bad about it), the Rossini parody Rabbit of Seville, and the “Hunting Trilogy” of “Rabbit Season/Duck Season” shorts (Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning, and Duck! Rabbit, Duck!) with Fudd, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck.

And here is the comedic genius of Robin Williams impersonating Elmer Fudd singing: “Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. I hope you enjoy this!

Thought for the Day:

“Talent is a flame. Genius is a fire.” – Bernard Williams

Further to the Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Smile:

Russ Waugh of Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba, Canada writes:

“Wow, only to be young enough and have the resources to train and try to make that climb?  Great  Google Earth maps etc.  Russ”

And Carol Burman of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada writes:

“OMG. That is quite the climb. Thank you for sharing. 

Enjoy this fabulous weather. 



Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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