At the annual Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service industrial fire school, held at Brayton Fire Field, in July 2019, Baker Fabrication, the manufacturer of The Hose Mule Retrieval Systems, made its inaugural debut of its tracked Skid Steer and The Hose Mule flaking system trailer package.
“Our new tracked Skid Steer and The Hose Mule flaking system use an 18-foot bumper pull trailer with a hose box large enough for two rows of 12-inch hose, 1,000 feet in each bay of the trailer,” Baker said. “To lay the hose, the trailer is towed by a ¾ ton or 1-ton pickup truck.”
However, when it comes to retrieving the hose, the tracked Skid Steer and The Hose Mule flaking system on the trailer “do the work” and take the manual hose loading out of the process.
“We use the tracked Skid Steer to push the trailer backwards while retrieving the hose into the hose box on the trailer,” he said.
The tracked Skid Steer and The Hose Mule flaking system pictured below, is designed to retrieve and flake 12-inch hose. However, other models of The Hose Mule are designed to retrieve 12-inch size hose and below, however these models require manually flaking,
In using the tracked Skid Steer and The Hose Mule flaking system, The Hose Mule operator, equipped with a monitor (with visibility to the rear of the trailer) and dual joystick controls, sits securely and safely in the seat mounted above the trailer hitch and uses the flaking system to retrieve the hose and flakes or folds into the hose box mounted on the trailer. The hydraulic system of the Skid Steer powers The Hose Mule flaking system which requires no need for an additional power source for the system.
“No personnel actually touch the 12-inch hose during the retrieval process utilizing our Skid Steer system,” said Clint Baker, owner of Baker Fabrication, manufacturer of The Hose Mule line of products. “It’s safer that way.”
“A skid steer unit has uses around the fire scene other than just pushing the retrieval trailer,” Baker said. “It can be used to move foam totes or other palletized equipment.”
“It’s a very robust machine,” he said. “The operator has total control over it with the joy sticks. He can judge where he needs to put folds, or if he needs to make the folded lengths shorter or longer.”
The origins of Hose Mule stretch back to 2006 when Baker, a career firefighter, manufactured his first hose retrieval system as an answer to more efficient hose retrieval throughout the fire service. After retiring from the City of Temple with 20 years of service in February of 2018, Baker has spent time creating and designing more safe and effective versions of The Hose Mule for various sizes of hose to include the Tracked Skid Steer and Hose Mule Flaking System.
“When you’re making your firefighters retrieve hose the old-fashioned way – stoop labor – you’re exposing them to the risk of possible back injury,” Baker said. “If you make it easier and faster to reload, it’s safer too.”