Project Concept

The fire hose is probably the most important piece of equipment carried on a fire appliance by a forest fire-fighting brigade. It is the fire-fighter’s lifeline, the umbilical cord connecting the fire-fighter facing a fire with the source of water, which can not fail at that critical moment.

Fire-fighters place huge demands on lay-flat delivery fire hoses yearly, because lifetime of a fire hose is severely limited by safety protocols. The composition and structure of a fire hose is such to ensure a proper performance in its work conditions, and to provide maximum safety to the fire-fighter. These constraints imply high mechanical resistance for pressurised water with anti-abrasive properties to ensure integrity in rough environments and resistance to oil and hydrocarbons in the outer layer. In addition they must have enough flexibility for the hose to be flat and facilitate its transport is essential.

The need in this project is solving a critical problem on a group of SMEs belonging to a sector with sound European weight in the international scenery. This group is facing a serious threat and wants to create the technological solution to overcome the threat. But at the same time, this technology will allow them the manufacturing of a product with improved performance and reliability. Therefore, there are two converging demands under this project, the hose manufacturers demand and the fire-fighters demand.

The proposal addresses the need of European SMEs in the rubber fire-hose manufacturing sector, accounting for more than 85% of the domestic market, for the improvement of the current discontinuous manufacturing method. These companies will be better positioned against the direct competition from the USA and the emerging threat of CHINA, as a direct result of this project. SMEs from rubber compounding will also benefit from the resulting technological developments and knowledge to strengthen their market position by increasing their market share and entering new markets.

The competitiveness of the SME rubber fire-hose manufacturers will be improved by:

  • Improving the quality of the product; a more flexible rubber hose will be more appealing for the end-user, and a lighter hose will enhance the handling of the hose, a valued characteristic among fire-fighters.
  • Lowering the costs of the production of the rubber hose; less reject rate, optimized costs of rubber compounding and processing and increased productivity will impact in the overall cost of manufacturing.

We have designed a project that will achieve these objectives through the development of new rubber compounds and the development of new processing and vulcanization methods of the rubber compound that constitutes the inner lining and the cover of the rubber fire-hose. The advances in knowledge and technological achievements that we will develop during the project are:

  • Enhancement of the understanding of the volatiles released during vulcanization and the synergistic effects of the ingredients.
  • Development of new rubber compounds.
  • Development of a controlled surface vulcanization method.
  • Development of a simple and reliable continuous vulcanization method.