Flow Rate and Nozzle Design

A number of years ago, several nozzle manufacturers developed a break apart combination nozzle (shutoff separate from the tip) with an integrated solid stream tip. This design allowed the user to adjust the pattern using the combination tip, or if desired, remove the combination tip and use the nozzle to develop a solid stream. Good idea or not? On the surface this sounds like it might be a reasonable idea. The combination tip allows adjustment of the pattern while the internal solid stream may provide improved performance in penetration to reach burning fuel surfaces. In addition, if the combination tip became clogged with debris it is also possible to remove the tip and still have the capability to develop a usable fire stream.

Used on various size handlines, internal solid stream tips are generally available in sizes ranging from 7/8” to 1-1/4”. What effect does an integrated solid stream tip have on nozzle performance when a combination tip is used? Manufacturers such as Elkhart Brass and Task Force Tips warn that the integrated smooth bore tip may restrict the flow of single flow, variable flow, or automatic combination tips.

CWIFR Nozzle Tests

Tests conducted by Firefighter Jim Huff of Central Whidbey Island Fire & Rescue (CWIFR) demonstrate the potential friction loss impact of integrated solid stream tips. CWIFR conducted flow tests using an mid-range Elkhart Phantom tip, a 1-1/2” (38 mm) ball valve, and a 1-1/2” (38 mm) ball valve with an integrated 15/16” (23.8 mm) tip. Line gages were inserted at the base of the nozzle and between the shutoff and the tip. Nozzle inlet pressure was adjusted to maintain the designed nozzle pressure of 100 psi (690 kPa) at the tip and pressure measurements were made at each of the nozzles flow settings of 30, 95, 125, 150, and 200 gpm (114, 360, 473, 658, and 757 lpm).

As illustrated in Figure 1, the ball valve without the integrated tip had limited impact on tip pressure.

Figure 1. Full Flow Ball Valve

However, the results obtained when using a 1-1/2” (38 mm) ball valve with an integrated 15/16” (23.8 mm)solid stream tip were dramatically different. As illustrated in Figure 2, a considerably higher inlet pressure was required to provide the designed operating pressure of 100 psi (690 kPa) at the tip.

Figure 2. Ball Valve with a Solid Stream Tip

When equipped with an integrated solid stream tip, the friction loss in the nozzle shutoff is significantly impacted by tip size (the smaller the tip, the greater the friction loss at a given flow rate).

This is My Nozzle

As stated in My Nozzle:

This is my nozzle, there are many like it but this one is mine. My nozzle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I master my life. Without me it is useless, without my nozzle I am useless.

I will use my nozzle effectively and efficiently to put water where it is needed. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, and its care. I will guard it against damage, keep it clean and ready. This I swear.

It is essential that firefighters, apparatus operators, and fire officers have an in-depth knowledge of their tools. A handline nozzle is your primary firefighting weapon in offensive firefighting operations, develop your nozzle knowledge and master this important tool.

Ed Hartin, MS, EFO, MIFireE, CFO

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One Response to “Flow Rate and Nozzle Design”

  1. Andy Golz Says:

    Great article, we are going through some nozzle testing/selection right now, this issue is something we are going to look into.

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