In 1821, a fire hose of cotton
web lined with rubber was patented by James Boyd of Boston, Mass. He invented
it to replace riveted leather hose. Leather hose had many drawbacks, including
drying out, cracking and bursting from excessive pressure. The introduction of
rivets (1807), to replace stitching, had allowed higher pressures and greater
delivery of water on the fireground. The improved hose now was 40 to 50 feet in
length and weighed more than 85 pounds with the couplings. Hose oilers were
developed to keep the leather supple and pliable. Various types of oils and
other substances were used to keep the hose in shape. By 1871, the Cincinnati
Fire Department was using the B.F. Goodrich Company’s new rubber hose
reinforced with cotton ply.
Indoor fire hose with a fire extinguisher, by Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Modern fire hoses use a
variety of natural and synthetic fabrics and elastomers in their construction.
These materials allow the hoses to be stored wet without rotting and to resist
the damaging effects of exposure to sunlight and chemicals. Modern hoses are
also lighter weight than older designs, and this has helped reduce the physical
strain on firefighters. 
Various devices
are becoming more prevalent that remove the air from the interior of fire hose,
commonly referred to as fire hose vacuums. This process makes hoses smaller and
somewhat rigid, thus allowing more fire hose to be packed or loaded into the
same compartment on a fire fighting apparatus.
There are several types of
hose designed specifically for the fire service. Those designed to operate
under positive pressure are called discharge hoses. They include attack hose,
supply hose, relay hose, forestry hose, and booster hose. Those designed to operate
under negative pressure are called suction hoses.
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