Let's take a look at both the flat and accordian loads  I'm not a fan of the accordian load and will explain why...


Update: Thanks to Eng Co 4, this photo shows the accordion fold. Scroll down this post to see more specific information regarding this apparatus and the hose inventory. 


Accordian Load:

  • Originally used decades ago as a standard hose lay but was replaced over time by most fire departments who now use the flat load.
  • Visually, a 'prettier' / 'neater' hose load.
  • Great for recessed hose wells like the front bumper line or running board freeway line.
  • Labor intensive to load hose using the Accordian Fold.
  • Not considered a 'good' hose storage method due to the increased stress put on the folds.
  • If not loaded correctly with the hose being packed too tight, there is a risk of the hose binding up in the hose bed when being deployed on hose lays.
  • Not considered an appropriate hose load for busy working engine companies that have to rack and re-rack hose several times per day.


Flat Load:

  • Easy to load and deploy.
  • Great for supply lines due to the ease of the hose 'flaking' out the rear hose bed for forward and reverse hose lays.
  • Not labor intensive, requiring only 1-2 people to re-rack the hosebed.
  • Less stress on the hose by there being less 'bending' of the hose.
  • Less time consuming, post-fire, to re-rack the hose which in my case is synthetic so you can put it away wet.
  • Compresses the hose better due to the weight of the hose layers.
  • Takes up less room and stores more hose.


Addtionally, I should mention that we have used both the triple fold and flat load for our crosslays. Years ago, we switched over from using the triple fold to the flat load for the crosslays. LA County would be another example of a large working department that adopted the flat load to facilitate getting engines in back in service asap to respond to additional alarms.



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I use this on my Type 6 engine at the Dept of Forestry for extra hose packs and am working on getting it used at my vol FD. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this. I've been trying to develop training material for it. This helps sooooo much.

I love this hose load for the purpose it charges in place. For wildfire it's important to us just as much as in high rise for city depts.

On the note of flat vs accordian. We're a flat load dept. For speed loads I'm more of a fan of the triple layer because it doesn't take much space to deploy it. Otherwise we're using flat loads also for our speed lays.

For the author who can't seem to find a picture of an accordian load (his picture of the model is not technically correct, but close) here
is an apparatus with all accordian loads.

Top Left ...150 foot 1 1/2" preconnect attack line line w/tip and ears
Bottom left ...150 foot 2 1/2" dead load attack line w/tip and ears

Center Beds ... total of 1200 feet of 2 1/2" supply line with hydrant wrench
and rope-hose tool in the right side center.

Top Right ...150 foot 1 1/2" dead load attack line w/tip and ears
Bottom Right ...250 foot 1 1/2" dead load attack line w/tip and ears

All attack lines are packed so the top layer is pulled as a shoulder load
and the bottom layer is a dump load for the D/O to connect.

Notice that there are NO "dutchmen" in the beds to conflict with the
laying out or advancing of lines. Instead, "short-packing" is used to
space couplings so as to pay out straight from the bed.

The hose beds illustrated are 6 feet deep.

This is the PROPER way to pack accordian style beds.
For today's large diameter hoses you can fit more hose in the flat lay than accordion. Also if you pack it too tight you run the risk of dumping the bed in a pile while laying in and no department likes dragging couplings down the road. Especially not with the price of today's hose. Gone are the days of dual 3 inch supply lines where the smaller hose could be double stacked accordion style.
As the author who could not find a picture of an accordion load, and I challenge anyone to do a google image search and find one... I thank you for providing such a clear photo of how your rack your hose bed. Having only used flat loads in my 30 year career, this is something that is not seen typically. I have to admit, it does look nice.

I'm curious about the time that it takes to change out your hose bed. A lot of us are hampered by having only a three-person crew. We roll the dice sometimes, only changing out 1/2 the hose bed at a time.

- Do you use more than 3-people to re-rack your engine?
- How do you handle multiple alarms where you have to change out an entire hose bed more than once in a 24-hour shift?
- Do you find it difficult to get several stations to maintain this type of hose storage?

We have to carry 1500-feet of 2 1/2" supply line because much of our area is very rural, or at least the driveways and access to water sources are either far apart or compromised by system overload. We also carry one triple folded 150-foot 2 1/2" with a TFT on the left side and several Gansner Packs and Spare Lateral Packs for Wildland Fire Progressive Hose lays.

And for what it's worth, I do hate dutchman's...

Nice antique engine and antique hose load photo. :-)
That particular apparatus is my personal apparatus. However, I have changed
out the entire engine with only one other person and done it in slightly less
than an hour. I do an annual hose/pressure test on my stuff and also do a
quarterly rotation to prevent stress/cracking/etc on hose folds. I have two
Class-A pumpers, one of which is 1984 vintage and has the higher hose bed,
mattydale beds up front and modern modular construction. And I use the same
accordian loads on it.

When I was on the job, we only had a four man company and we also used accordian
loads on our apparatus on the job (retired in 2001) and out of the four, the D/O
was required by SOP to stay with the apparatus in the cab for moving it and the
Capt was required to be on the ground supervising and safety. That left tow of
us to rack hose to go back in service. We could usually rack all 1000 feet of our
supply line (2 1/2" and 3") in slightly over 15 minutes. That was using experienced
personnel and having to empty residual water out of the supply line while racking it.
And we had state-of-the-art apparatus when I was there.

Agreed, it is beneficial when using LDH to use flat loads if it is done PROPERLY as
it stores a bit better. BUT....you CAN rack it accordian style. Again, just pay
attention to what you are doing, practice and it will go on PROPERLY and not fall

As for "dutchmen" that is the "fix" for a sloppy load. If you pay attention to how
you are loading, you can avoid dutchmen by "short-loading" that particular fold.
(Not using a full bed-length fold. See picture) And all of your couplings will pay
straight out of the bed. "Back in the day" when I first started in the Fire Service
we had backstep windshields and you had BETTER rack your hose PROPERLY or
you could/would lose that windshield from flying couplings! Better NOT screw up!

AS for it being "easier for newbies"... if the Fire Service and individual Departments
used a littel more quality control (as they used to do) a person would NOT be allowed
to ride UNTIL they could perform the proper evolutions SATISFACTORILY.

This is one of the main reasons for most of our fireground accidents today. So if
you are using "flat loads" because of "rookies" then you have a bigger problem
than loose hose! If a "rookie" can't pull and rack hose properly then they most
likely can't be trusted to perform fire suppression duties on the fireground properly!
THIS is a LIFE HAZARD and should be FIXED before a problem arises!



Pulling and racking hose is an EXCELLENT bad weather indoor drill for
rookies! Pull the lines off of the apparatus o the engine room floor where
it is nice and dry and warm and PRACTICE! EVERYBODY'S life depends
upon it!

The Emergency Services is NO PLACE for "short cuts", "easy", etc.
Again, I say, if you rack the hose, ANY hose, PROPERLY, it will pay out without
"dumping " a whole bed! As for "dragging couplings" accordian lays drag no more
or less than flat lays! Actually if you pack and accordian load tight it will drag LESS
as it will tend to "tension up" rather than merely "flake off" and when hose "flakes off"
loosely THAT is when it tends to drag and damage couplings. In my time with the
Fire Service (1966-present) I have NEVER seen a bed "dump" in entirety because
it was racked "too tight". I HAVE seen beds (loaded BOTH ways) "dump" because
it was loaded "too loose"! The original flat load in the begininng of this thread is an
example of lax quality control when it comes to loading hose. Irregular folds, loose
layers, appliances and nozzles not secured or even wrapped in a single loop. etc.

I am enclosing a photo of a PROPER flat load done in such a manner that the hose
will stay in the bed under just about any conditions. Notice that the hose is loaded
without air in it, uniformly and completely in the bed. The nozzles on the attack lines
are wrapped in a fold as well as stored completely back in the bed NOT hanging out!
Any appliances connected are secured in holders and NOT hanging loose out of the bed.
Pull-folds are provided for laying out "bundles" or "dumps" and the rest is packed as
a flat shoulder load. THIS is a CORRECT flat load. And it takes no more time or skill
to do than a sloppy load! Yet this flat load will stay put in the bed until needed!

I had a Capt in the 1960s that was FANATICAL about accordian loads being "just
so" and he even had us packing it with a RUBBER MALLET to get it "high and tight"
and even THAT didn't "bunch up", stretch or otherwise fail! (It WAS a PITA working
with that Capt, though...(grin). The accordian and flat loads I have enclosed were
NOT crushed, pounded or otherwise "forced" into the bed. Just loaded PROPERLY.

Another problem inherent with flat loads is that air trapped in the hose tends to STAY
trapped in the hose and this provides a "pillow" to allow the hose to "self-layout"
whereas if hose is racked accordian style and has any air in it the hose will tend to
"self-lock" on the edges through friction and stay put even with the air in it. The only
adverse results from trapped air is a sloppy-looking load. (See remarks about my old-
school Capt.) This goes back to sound quaity control and practice by crews.

Flat loads DO have their places in mattydale beds, bumper beds and attack lines
where the hose must be deployed using diverse methods such as combination
shoulder loads and dump lays. But mattydale beds are normally narrower and taller
and thus provide some of that "self-locking" friction/weight coefficient not found in
open shallow supply line beds.

What once was in no longer... we used to ride on the tailboards of engines... we used to have to do a lot of things that nowadays firefighters don't even know about. And with the exception of your vintage engine, I really don't think many departments employ the use of the accordion load... While the load does look great, and if done the right way works well for you, there are too many overwhelming justifications that result in fire departments using the flat load.

You touched on how the requirements we had to endure as young firefighters are no longer the same stringent standards that we were held accountable for. I can only speak for the folks my department has been hiring and can't say that these folks are anything but professional.

We used to have volunteer / reserve call paid firefighters in different parts of my county that provided fire protection. All have gone away because of the train, drill, train, drill time commitments and minimum training guidelines. In order to learn any job, one has to commit to the principles you shared... practice does make perfect. Even working full time with overtime shifts thrown in, you never can get enough repetition to make sure that you know what to do when the alarm sounds.

Take notice that in both photos I enclosed the beds are NOT set up
as dual lines. They CAN be if needed by breaking the coupling connecting
the two beds or in the case of the flat load picture they can be joined.
The flat oad bed is set up as a dual-purpose LDH bed with one side using
a HUMAT valve and the other side as a single straight lay which (if needed)
added to the HUMAT side for extension.

MY 1984 pumper is set up similarly only accordian fashion rather than flat.
Both work equally well.
Flatload is quick and ez to repack
There is always the chance of accidentally deploying any hose lay that uses the hose, rather than a retention system, to keep the hose in the bed.

That "proper" flat lay above counts on GRAVITY to hold the hose in place. One bump in the road that overcomes gravity for a split second, and there goes the unintendo hose lay.

The section that hangs down to the Humat valve is giving gravity a head start, too.

Accordian loads were famous for cracking the hose liners at the bends, especially in the bottom layers that were infrequently used, too.

A hose bed cover with a hose retention system covering a flat load of LDH is the 21st century to carry supply hose.

Compressing the hose is a bad thing - which makes flat loads better for the long-term hose life.

Additionally, horseshoe loads are generally better for bumper lines than accordian loads, as they don't put as many sharp bends in the hose and they allow a "hollow" in the center of the top layer for the nozzle.
Forestry loads are increasingly using the Cleveland or "wraparound" hose load for hose extension.


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