Why A Fire Bucket Has The Shape Of A Cone

Translated by Alexandra Igna (2019)


A fire bucket is a piece of fire extinguishing equipment that can be used by company employees, fire protection unit personnel and other individuals in order to fight fires. A fire bucket is located on a fire shield near the objects of protection.

The Story

The most popular version of the stories that speak about the origin of fire buckets in the form of cones one that claims they were invented and used to extinguish fires in the Navy on the European continent. On ships, “buckets” made of multilayer canvas were sewn in the shape of a cone (the bucket did not take a lot of time for manufacturing). Over time, the habit was embraced by the first fire brigades in England, that were mostly made of retired Royal Navy sailors. However, this version of the story is not confirmed by any palpable proof, neither in engravings nor in paintings of those times or any literature books.

Why Cone-Shaped?

As we have already found out, buckets designed to extinguish fires were not conical. Let's try to understand what is the reason why today these buckets have a conical shape.

Myth 1 "The historical version."

In Russia, before the invention of fire pipes (pumps), fires were extinguished manually, with the participation of the entire village. People formed a “chain” at the nearest body of water and passed buckets to each other, and since the bucket was conical in shape, no one could stop and rest - after all, you couldn't sit on a conic bucket and take a cigarette break! But as we see in many paintings and engravings, the buckets were ordinary buckets or flat-bottomed.

Myth 2. In a cone-shaped bucket, here are no water splashes when the water is poured out.

According to this myth, the liquid inside a conic bucket does not splash on the sides or fly out of the bucket at a distance. But according to the laws of hydraulics, a course which is part of fire expert training program, the shape of the jet, as well as its characteristics (fluid flow rate per unit time, angle of incidence and range) depend on the nozzle section, i.e. its shape and diameter of the hole, and not the shape of the vessel from which the water flows. Thus, the conical shape does not affect the jet characteristics.

The first cone buckets were massively found on American railways in the early 20th century. The conical shape of the fire bucket is by no means engineering know-how that makes fire fighting easier. This solution is purely precautionary against unauthorized use. Such a bucket can not be used at a farm, for example. In addition, today, none of the regulatory documents mention the conic bucket as a fire fighting measure. So, if necessary, calmly hand over an ordinary bucket. You can paint it red and label it "firefighter" so that it would be clear that it is meant to be used as fire equipment.

Myth 3 There is still a comic version, stating that the volume of a regular cone is easier to calculate compared to the volume of a truncated one, i.e. ordinary buckets with a flat bottom.


Advantages During A Fire

Below are the advantages of a cone bucket over a flat-bottomed one, but which are not not affect its performance in any way.

  • The opening of the conical fire bucket is built in such a way as to provide maximum volume with minimum material consumption because there is no need to build a bottom. The capacity of the fire bucket is about 8 liters. In addition, the construction of the bucket provides sufficient rigidity so that it does not break when dropped from a height, unlike a flat-bottomed bucket.

  • Usually, during a fire, protective gloves (gaiters) are put on your hands, which can quickly get wet and slippery. It is more convenient to take the cone-shaped bucket with two hands at once: one by the sharp part of the cone, the other by the handle. The probability that the conical part of the bucket will slip out of your hands is negligible compared to the edge of an ordinary bucket.

  • The cone bucket is easier to heat. While a flat-bottomed bucket floats on the surface of the water, the cone immediately scoops up water, and, accordingly, it is easier and faster to use (especially for deep wells).

  • When extinguishing fires and gathering water in the winter season using sharp cone bucket, it is convenient to make a hole by breaking through the edge of the ice.

  • During a fire, it is often required to run with a full bucket, and its conical shape allows you not to hit your legs, which is usually common when carrying a flat-bottomed bucket.

  • The process of making a fire bucket is very simple, so anyone who deals with fire with no fire fighting equipment at hand could make one using improvised materials (tin, tarpaulin, wire).

  • With a cone-shaped bucket, you can loosen the soil or sand in a special firebox and easily scoop it up, holding the top of the cone with one hand and the other at the edge of the bucket with the other.

And finally, one interesting fact. On August 5, 1997, the Guinness Book of Records recorded a new event. That day in the United States (Virginia), 6,569 scouts created the world's longest-living chain for carrying fire buckets with water, measuring 3272 meters in length.



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