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A firefighter in khaki turnout gear pulls a green firehose from a red firetruck speedlay with one hand as his other arm balances tools and a green hose pack on his shoulder.

Fire apparatus hose deployment is a critical element in fireground operations. Efficient hose deployment allows firefighters to initiate fire suppression faster when every second counts. As such, taking the time to think through hose deployment as you build new fire apparatus should not be overlooked.

Below, we review the basics on hosebeds, and dive into detail on strategic hose deployment and how fire departments may consider storing and using hose on a future apparatus.

Hosebed Overview

Two red compartments hold rolled up attack line hose on a fire truck.

A hosebed, also known as a hose storage compartment, is the area of the apparatus that carries and deploys a fire department's hose. Hosebeds are available in a variety of sizes and can be placed strategically on apparatus based on the configuration of the entire apparatus.

Let’s review some common hosebed terms before we dive in on selection.

What is A Supply Line?

A firefighter in khaki turnout gear pulls blue fire hose from a fire truck crosslay while another firefighter operates the pump panel.

A supply line is a flexible, large-diameter hose used to transport large amounts of water from fire hydrants or other pressurized sources to a fire pump so it can be transferred to an attack hose. Supply line fire hoses can be stored flat and have fittings on both ends for equipment connections.

What is An Attack Line?

An attack line is a hose that advances towards and extinguishes the fire. While supply lines are designed to transfer large amounts of water, attack lines are made to withstand high water pressure and abrasion, giving firefighters the flexibility, range and power needed to extinguish a fire. Attack lines can be pre-connected to the fire truck's pump and ready for immediate use.

What Are Crosslays?

A crosslay is a hose storage method that allows for the rapid deployment of a hose line. Crosslays lay across the pump (hence the name), and allow hose to be stored in the open for quick and easy access. Crosslays extend across a fire truck's width, allowing hose lines to be transferable and pulled from either side of the vehicle.

What Are Speedlays?

Speedlays are typically mounted on the side of an apparatus and tucked strategically into body compartment areas. Speedlays often include a removable tray that is easy to grab and place on the ground for fast and effective hose deployment. While crosslays are accessible from both sides of an engine, speedlays may not always be accessible from both sides.

View a full gallery of images showing each of these options now.

High Hosebed vs. Low Hosebed

A graphic shows two side-by-side images of the back of fire trucks, one with a high hosebed and one with a low hosebed.Hosebed structure and placement is often designed to optimize firefighter ergonomics and safety.

  • High hosebeds are typically not accessible from ground level and require ergonomic ladders, steps, walkways and other built-in features to access. High hosebeds are more difficult to access and repack in a safe and ergonomic manner.
  • Low hosebeds prove to be safer and more efficient for firefighters on scene. Low hosebeds eliminate the need for extra accessibility features by allowing firefighters to grab what they need from the ground.
Ultimately, choosing between a high and low hosebed comes down to the mission of the truck. A fire truck’s length, water tank, body style and customizations all factor into the best size and placement of a hosebed. In addition to a hosebed, there are other hose storage options available on fire apparatus detailed below.

Hose Storage Options

A green hose is visible inside of a white fire truck’s front bumper hose compartment.There are several tactical areas a fire department may choose for hose storage on a fire apparatus.

  • Rear of the apparatus. Hosebeds are often found at the rear of apparatus and fire departments can choose the length, width and placement (high or low) based on their needs. Customizable hosebed dividers are also possible with rear hose storage.
  • Crosslays. Hoses are stored in the open perpendicular to the fire apparatus, typically above the pump panel, at the apparatus's midpoint. This placement option allows for hose deployment from both sides of the truck.
  • Speedlays. There are several storage options for speedlays: inside the transverse walkways of the apparatus, mounted immediately in front of the pump’s house just below the operator’s panel and inside removable trays that slide into compartments.
  • Front bumper. Much like rear storage, a major advantage of front bumper storage is the ability for low storage, allowing for fast and safe accessibility. With front bumper storage, departments are able to choose between traditional flat hosebeds or low hosebed configurations.
  • Hose packs. A hose pack is a small, bundled hose that can be carried to higher levels of a building. Also known as standby packs, hose packs are a great option for building fires where there are water connections inside the building. This allows firefighters to connect to the building’s water supply on the floor above or below a fire.

What Determines the Size and Location of Hosebeds?

Hosebed size and location depend on many factors, including the cab, chassis, pump, body and water tank selection. Mission, geographic terrain, building setback, water infrastructure and types of calls also significantly factor into hosebed location and size.

Hosebed size and location comes down to the mission of the truck and how to maximize strategic operations, speed and performance on the fire ground.

As fire department representatives consider hosebed options, they’ll want to think through fleet design and operational preferences. Setting up all fire department vehicles with the same hosebed locations can improve on-scene operations and firefighter training efficiencies. Accessing hosebeds will become second-nature because the location remains consistent across all fleet apparatus. Similarly, a fire department needs to consider its operational preferences. Some fire departments prefer running operations off the rear of the truck, while others prefer working off the side. Setting up fire trucks to match fleet and operational preferences is always a good idea.

Hose Storage Selection: Where Should You Start?

A close up image of a red fire truck’s speedlay where fire truck hose is stored. When it comes time to determine the best hose storage options, fire department representatives should keep these factors in mind.

  • What are the requirements for vehicle length and height?
  • What are your operational requirements?
  • What do you plan on carrying on board the fire truck?
  • How much hose needs to be on the apparatus?
  • How are other trucks in the department fleet designed?
  • What are your safety and ergonomic requirements?
The most important factor in hose storage selection is to work with your fire truck manufacturer and local dealer to determine what works best for your fire department. Your manufacturer and dealer can advise you on the best options to meet your operational and strategic goals and help you determine the best truck to meet the needs of your community.

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About Pierce Manufacturing
Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation [NYSE: OSK] business, is the leading North American manufacturer of custom fire apparatus. Products include custom and commercial pumpers, aerials, rescue trucks, wildland trucks, mini pumpers, and homeland security apparatus. In addition, Pierce designs its own foam systems and was the first company to introduce frontal airbags and the Side Roll Protection system to fire apparatus. To learn more about Pierce, visit

About Oshkosh Corporation

At Oshkosh (NYSE: OSK), we make innovative, mission-critical equipment to help everyday heroes advance communities around the world. Headquartered in Wisconsin, Oshkosh Corporation employs approximately 17,000 team members worldwide, all united behind a common purpose: to make a difference in people’s lives. Oshkosh products can be found in more than 150 countries under the brands of JLG®, Hinowa, Power Towers, Pierce®, MAXIMETAL, Oshkosh® Defense, McNeilus®, IMT®, Jerr-Dan®, Frontline™ Communications, Oshkosh® Airport Products, Oshkosh AeroTech™ and Pratt Miller. For more information, visit

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