This is a debate that plagues the fire service. Most of the personal "experience" or "knowledge" from this debate stems from lack of knowledge or understanding of the simple principle that GPM (properly applied) puts out fires. Some believe that pressure is what we should be concentrating on. Firefighters start out in their "firefighter" schools, where ever that may be, and learn about the nozzle they have there and then go to work somewhere and only learn about the nozzle they use there or the one that that person tells them is the end-all-be-all of the fire service. Few firefighters are aware of what is available to them, what each one actually flows under live conditions, heat absorption characteristics, etc. If all you have ever used is a combination nozzle, you have probably never flowed a smooth bore hooked to a GPM gauge to see the flow and experience the difference in pull back pressure.
The problems with all new tools / nozzles / methods of going to work is that it is change and fire fighters have to be more resistant to change than any other culture or group of people on this planet.
We need to make sure we educate all of our fire fighters on what they are carrying and how much water it puts out at varying pressures and with various lengths of hose. I'm not a personal fan of the adjustable or combination nozzle whether its a fixed gallonage or automatic. This nozzle has been used in the 5 fire departments I have worked for. Its generally not the tool, but how you use it I always say. Fires still go out in these 5 places. Some maybe not as effectively as others due primarily to GPM delivered. I personally prefer the smooth bore nozzle. It is simple, won't clog and is inexpensive. Next I prefer the vindicator. Both the smooth bore and vindicator can put out a very high GPM flow from an 1-3/4" fire line. One costs about $150 and the other around $800. The CFD recently has started phasing in an Elkhart Chief 250 gpm @ 50 psi to replace the outdated Task Force Tips. The TFT's were automatic type nozzles with a complicated pressure control mechanism. These nozzles just don't work right anymore due to the age, wear and lack of maintenance on the internal pressure control mechanism. The Chief nozzle selected flows comparable to the Vindicator, but gives the "hard head" fire fighter the option to have a fog or straight stream. The reasons the "hard heads" don't like the vindicator ring true for a smooth bore as well. "I need the "fog" stream to ventilate". We made sure we found a combination nozzle that allowed them to have fog for ventilation and other scenarios that also flowed a lot of GPM from a 1-3/4" fire line.
I'm an advocate of I don't care what you or your department uses, just know its limitations, how much water it can put out with it in GPM and how it reacts to line kinks, long lays, reduced pressure situations, etc. You need to do this with a flow meter. If you cant get a flow meter, ask a sales representative to bring a nozzle out for you to demo and flow and while flowing that nozzle, flow your current nozzle alongside of it.
GPM properly and rapidly applied puts out fires. There is no greater live saving action on the fire ground than to put out the fire and stop all the bad things going on inside the building. (sorry truckers….)
Mike Kirby- Cinncinati Fire Department Engine Co. 12