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  1. #1
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    Default New pump operator has some questions

    Hi all,

    I am on a vol. dept that has a variety of different pumpers. We have no hydrants and run tanker shuttles for water. I am normally not called on as a pump operator, but have done it at traings and have run pumpers at fill sites. I am going to take driver/operator class in the fall, but am just wondering the steps needed to "set up" the pump. I realize that different nozzles, discharges, fire loads, etc. can change but am looking for the basics. I guess this is what I've come up with from reading on here and my own experience, feel free to make corrections.

    Once on scene:

    1. Put pump in gear, open tank to pump.

    2. Charge desired handlines based on predetermined friction loss.

    3. Set relief valve

    4. Once tankers are on scene, switch to drop tank (usually off front suction), close tank to pump

    5. Refill tank



    I had some questions based on the steps above.
    -First, I read on here when flowing multiple lines to run the pdp 10 psi over the highest required dishcarge, and throttle back the smaller pressure requirements. I understand that when running 10psi over, you can see if a line is open or not. Is this a good practice to follow?

    -Secondly, What is the correct relief valve setting, do you set it a certain amount over the pdp, or is there a rule of thumb for this? Usually I don't think we really adjust them, but there is rare occasions where we would use hydrants, and I was wondering how that would effect relief valve setup?
    I also understand that on hydrants you don't want less than 20psi, and there is a percentage rule on how many discharges based off of pressure difference between residual and static.
    -Another question, we have a lot of TFT automatic nozzles that have 50-350gpm flow rates. Most of our trucks don't have flow meters, and the ones that do are discharges plumbed into the foam system. I think I read on here that most guys figure on max flow and set the discharge pressure to that?
    Lastly, do you guys usually leave a the tank fill/recirc, or some discharge cracked open in case of nozzles/discharges all shut off?
    Thanks in advance, I'm sure there will be more questions to come
    Last edited by fordrules; 02-22-2009 at 02:05 PM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by fordrules View Post
    Once on scene:

    1. Put pump in gear, open tank to pump.
    Stop right here! After you open the tank to pump valve, the next thing to do is to crack open the tank fill. Not much, just enough to know that there is a flow of water back into the tank.

    Reason: When the pump is turning, you want water flowing through it. If not, you'll soon overheat the pump with the possibility of damage to it. That goes double for those of you who run those single stage pumps. It only takes a second to crack that tank fill valve open.

    If you don't do that, here's what happens. You open and set your hand lines. Water fills the lines. If no lines are in use, once the lines are full of water, the water stops and you have no more flow. Or, the lines are put into use immediately, but then are shut down. No more flow. But the job isn't over and they may be reopened at some time. Do you want to take the pump out of gear each time that happens, and have to reset over and over again?

    By the simple act of cracking open the tank fill valve, you ensure that you always have water flowing through the pump. Granted, most engines today have a "Pump Cooler" valve by whatever name they might call it. But typically they use a very small line, frequently 1/4" or 3/8" which just doesn't give adequate flow to keep pumps sufficiently cool.

    Keeping a flow of water going through the pump becomes even more important if you have a CAFS system. If the CAFS compressor is engaged, the oil in the compressor has to be kept from overheating. There is a heat exchanger that uses a small amount of water from the pump to cool the compressor oil. No flow of water through the pump means no flow of water to the cooler. That means big damage to the compressor.

    So take that second and crack open that tank fill valve. It won't take long for you to get the feel for how much. And all during your pump operations, put your hand onto your steamer connection casting periodically. If it's hot there, it's much hotter inside the pump. Adjust your flow.

    Stay safe out there, everyone goes home!

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    Quote Originally Posted by fordrules View Post
    I had some questions based on the steps above.
    -First, I read on here when flowing multiple lines to run the pdp 10 psi over the highest required dishcarge, and throttle back the smaller pressure requirements. I understand that when running 10psi over, you can see if a line is open or not. Is this a good practice to follow? I think you meant to say "run the pdp at the highest handline requirement, and then gate back lines that need lower pressures." And as for the 10 over thing and being able to see if a line is open or not, I never heard that one. Any good pump operator should be able to tell if a line has opened or not simply by listening to the engine speed and keeping an eye on the gauges.

    -Secondly, What is the correct relief valve setting, do you set it a certain amount over the pdp, or is there a rule of thumb for this? Should be set at the highest anticipated PDP, for example, whatever your longest stretch is of whatever diameter line requires a higher pdp....200 feet of an 1.75" needing 100PSI at the pipe requires a total of about 160PSI. (100 for the pipe and 60 for friction loss and other misc. losses.)

    Usually I don't think we really adjust them, but there is rare occasions where we would use hydrants, and I was wondering how that would effect relief valve setup? The INTAKE relief valve is a different animal. I have heard many different ways/methods/preferences of how to set them.

    I also understand that on hydrants you don't want less than 20psi, and there is a percentage rule on how many discharges based off of pressure difference between residual and static. 20 is a good number that would make me start to think about telling the Incident Commander and/or the logistics officer that they wont get much more out of me if asked. Or if I am on the receiving end of a line being supplied from a source down the road, I would think about calling the source and asking for some more. When the intake gets to 10, thats when I am certainly making that call.

    -Another question, we have a lot of TFT automatic nozzles that have 50-350gpm flow rates. Most of our trucks don't have flow meters, and the ones that do are discharges plumbed into the foam system. I think I read on here that most guys figure on max flow and set the discharge pressure to that? When dealing with automatic nozzles, you have to think in terms of PSI. Most automatic knobs require 100PSI in order to function properly. Ever watch the stream of a TFT that is set on "straight stream" and it comes out in a cone-shape, but eventually meets in the center a foot or two from the nozzle and merges into the straight pattern? This is a TFT that is not getting enough discharge pressure. You give the nozzle 100, and let the guy on the end control the flow with the bail.

    Lastly, do you guys usually leave a the tank fill/recirc, or some discharge cracked open in case of nozzles/discharges all shut off? Absolutely. See CE11's above comment.
    Thanks in advance, I'm sure there will be more questions to come
    It is absolutely imperative that you take that driver/operator class you discussed. Dont know where you are located, but I highly recommend the Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute's (MFRI) "Pump Operator I and II." You need not be a resident of Maryland to take the course, if you are able to travel to Maryland to take it, or can take it through one of their outreach methods, jump at the chance. You might also pick up the most recent copy of IFSTA's Pump Operators Manual.

    What I do NOT recommend is relying solely on in-house training.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    I have the IFSTA book "Pumping Apparatus Driver/Operator Handbook"

    Thanks for the other pointers

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    not sure if you have really looked at it, but I noticed you said you do drafting off the front suction. have you ever looked at the plumbing to the pump. I know a lot of them that are reduced down to 4" pipe as they go over the axle and several bends. So if you need to flow big water, you may want to run the suction hose into the pump directly.

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    Thanks for the tip

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    Quote Originally Posted by fire0099881 View Post
    not sure if you have really looked at it, but I noticed you said you do drafting off the front suction. have you ever looked at the plumbing to the pump. I know a lot of them that are reduced down to 4" pipe as they go over the axle and several bends. So if you need to flow big water, you may want to run the suction hose into the pump directly.
    This excellent comment spurs me to add to what I said before about keeping water moving. Even when you are at draft or receiving water from another source, you need to keep it moving. If the lines you have off are shut down and there is no other flow, you have to create it. Keeping the tank fill line cracked open is the most common. Yes, you will have some overflow onto the ground. If that presents a problem, put a small line onto an unused discharge, lead the line off to an out of the way place, and crack it open.

    Remember, when the pump is turning but no water is moving, it won't take long to get into an overheat condition, even to the point of boiling the water in the pump. Loss of prime is also commonplace in that situation.

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    My response to similar questions by a different poster in a different thread specifically about relief valves was...

    Set your pressure relief valve always, as a matter of good habit. To set it properly follow a routine such as i am about to describe.

    -Set your correct discharge pressure
    -Turn the relief valve down until you see your discharge gauge begin to drop (you'll also hear the sound of water as is "crackles" and flows through the valve).
    -Slowly turn the valve back up until the discharge gauge is at the original (desired) pressure.
    -Turn it about a half turn higher.

    This applies to the Hale relief valve. A waterous has an on off switch and I'll let their users chime in regarding any differences.

    By following a routine such as the one listed above, youve protected your pump and other lines/appliances from any water surges should the handline(s)/discharge(s) shut down abruptly.

    Think of the relief valve as nothing more than another discharge and the cap on it is a big spring. When your pressure gets too high, the valve opens and sends water back into the intake side of the pump. Some systems (HALE TPM) will also dump large water surges onto the ground if they are too substantial to relieve through the discharge side relief.

    Remember, the actual relief valve is on the pump body, the wheel you turn is attached to the pilot valve which is where the water pressure is sensed and sent to the valve to tell it what pressure it must open beyond.

    One of the most critical times for the relief valve to be set is in the transition from tank water to a pressurized supply (hydrant or nurse operation). Because your pump is making up all of the flow (pressure) on tank water. The introduction of the pressurized supply line to the pump will add to the existing pressure you already have set, causing an overpressure/flow situation. Without the relief valve, this overpressure will transfer to any nozzles, applioances, other discharge lines. The only way around this is to slowly open your intake while decreasing your throttle or gating the discharges, that can get tricky. Todays modern pressure governors compensate for this change of pressures during the transition as long as they are operated in the pressure (PSI) mode.

    In your example of two handlines, if one shuts down, that water (say 150 GPM or so) must go somewhere once the nozzle closes. Naturally it will want to seek the next availible outlet, which will be the other nozzle. The simplest analogy would be to use a garden hose setup off a wye from the spigot with the quarter turn shutoffs on each hose end. Flow both hoses at once. Expect fairly crappy results to be observed. Shut off one of the hoses at the tip and watch the pressure on the other tip increase. If you had a relief valve set for when both were flowing, that wouldnt happen (not as substantially).

    Theres no two better times to use the relief valve than when you are operaing more than one line or anytime you have a pressurized supply coming into the pump.

    Your discharge relief valve and pressure governors will not work if the discharge pressures are below the intake pressures.

    http://forums.firehouse.com/showthread.php?t=105260

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    Automatic nozzles dont require a pressure, thay maintain a pressure. They require a flow, in your case its a minimum of 50 GPM for the nozzle to start to operate in its designed range. The spring inside provides the 100 PSI of backpressure to produce the stream. It (the spring) opens as more water come along into the nozzle. The idea of pumping the nozzles max flow would provide you with a hoseline similar to trying to move a 200' long steel rod around the fireground. You'd be looking at some pressure of 250+ for the max flow of that nozzle, which is simply unnecessary most of the time.

    Automatic nozzles require no different formula than any other nozzle to set a discharge pressure for. Pick the flow you want and do the math. PDP=NP+FL+DL+EL. Pump discharge pressure equals nozzle pressure + friction loss (for the flow youve selected) + device loss (if using any appliances) + elevation loss (if there is any).

    The friction loss for 150 GPM in 1 3/4" hose is about 35 PSI per 100 feet of hose. The friction loss is the same regardless if its an auto, smooth bore (7/8), fixed gallonage or selectable gallonage tip. The only difference is to add the nozzles operating pressure once you have your friction loss figured.

    Want to know howe much water is flowing from your auto, just subtract 100 from your discharge pressure and then divide the remaining number by how many 100 foot increments of hose you have. Look on a chart and theres a ballpark answer.

    For example, you are flowing 170 PSI (on your discharge gauge) from a TFT 100 PSI auto tip on a 200' 1 3/4" line. Subtract the nozzle pressure (100) and youre left with 70. Divide 70 by 2 and you have 35. You lose 35 PSI per 100', making the flow about 150 GPM. Its a simple equation you can do as long as you have a pocket friction loss card to find the number on the grid. If its a 250' line, then divide by 2.5.

    Most cell phones have a calculator these days if youre looking to be precise. To save time, simply have a pump chart made ahead of time so you dont have to do much (if any) math on the fireground.

    These are approximate answers, but answers that are better than none.
    Last edited by MG3610; 02-22-2009 at 10:28 PM.

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    Since I'm the guy who suggested that a pump operator set the master pump pressure about 10 psi above the highest required line pressure and then gate each line down to the correct (desired) pressure with the line flowing. This does several things. First by making you observe the line before it enters the structure, you get a handle on where that line is going and who the crew is. Second, with multiple lines being advanced, each line has to have eye contact with the pump operator. It is not a pleasant experience when someone has pulled a line from the rear without your knowledge and then starts calling on the radio yelling "Charge the line" and you are trying to figure out who and then how much water will it require. Lastly, knowing which of the lines is taking water will help in understanding how much progress is being made inside the structure. Listening to the pump is essential to being a good operator, but whan there are 3, 4, or more lines working, it takes more than listening to keep track of what is going on. Our engines are set-up to provide 4 or 5 -1 3/4" lines and 2 - 2 1/2" lines (1400 gpm application rate possible)
    Since you specify that the vast majority of fires will be fought with tank water and a shuttle, the water consumption rate is an essential part of keeping the IC informed of water supply conditions. Keeping the tank full is vital to providing a safety volume should things turn bad or you loose the shuttle.
    Run a line from a discharge back into your drop tank, and use it to keep the pump cool. Here is what happens when you over heat a pump through lack of circulation. First since the pump is slowly warming, most pump clearance will be adequate to compensate for the expansion, but there are a number of different materials in the pump that expand at different rates. Lets say you reach 150 deg. F and then somebody opens up with a line. The incoming water from the drop tank might be at 40 degrees. Brass impellers, anti-swirl devices (also brass) and shafts (stainless) that are in contact with the cold water will rapidly chill, but the pump casting mass can't cool as rapidy as these components. Brass CTE (size change vs temperature) is larger than the cast iron and places a strain on the casting. Because cast iron is essentially a material that doesn't deform, it cracks. Usually at the small area next to the shaft, allowing the anti-swirl devices to break free of the casting and spin on the shaft. This unbalanced condition shakes the pump bearings, wearing the seals and even the bearings in the transfer case. The result is a complete pump and transfer case replacement. Not a good thing. If you accidentally get the pump so hot that you can't hold your bare fingers on the steamer for more than a count of three...115 to 120 deg. F; shut the whole operation down, stop flowing water and let the the pump cool slowly. Then you will need to conduct a full pump test before placing it back in service.
    If you are using 200 ft. PC of 1 3/4" lines with an automatic nozzle, your pump discharge pressure is a good approximation of the full open flow rate of the line. 140 psi PDP will deliver about 140 gpm while 180 psi PDP will supply about 180 gpm. When you get switched from tank water to hydrant or relay supply, the pump will take advantage of the incoming pressure, so an engine throttled at 1200 rpm and supplying 160 psi, when it gets water at 50 psi incoming will try to jump up to 210 psi, but your relief valve should hold discharge at 160 until you can throttle down. You may need to drop the rpm to 1,000 or even lower before the relief valve will stop operating. If you started the operation with a drop tank and a hard sleeve, and then got connected to a relay, this is the ideal condition since this is now an "open circuit" relay in that your intake pressure will stay at zero and the extra water will simply fill the drop tank. No change in your settings will be needed.
    Last edited by KuhShise; 02-23-2009 at 09:49 AM. Reason: Added comment on automatic nozzles

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    Aside from the technical details of putting the pump in gear, etc. I tell my operators there are three basic rules to follow:

    1) Open one valve before you close another
    2) Use a source of water other than your tank whenever possible
    3) Keep your tank full whenever possible

    I agree that you should crack your "fill tank" valve whenever possible to make sure that water is circulating, BUT this doesn't work when being supplied from another source (you'll create one hell of a puddle under the truck) or you're pumping from your tank and you're approaching the limits that the tank-to-pump can supply. For instance, you have a 3" tank-to-pump and you're flowing two 1-3/4" lines, if you open the "fill tank" much at all, you'll start cavitating your pump.

    IMHO, if you're steadily flowing water, as during initial extinguishment ops, keep the "fill tank" closed and let the relief valve do its job. Once you're in to mop-up, then crack the "fill tank" if possible, BUT also throttle the truck down...

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    Quote Originally Posted by simpleguy68 View Post
    Aside from the technical details of putting the pump in gear, etc. I tell my operators there are three basic rules to follow:

    1) Open one valve before you close another
    2) Use a source of water other than your tank whenever possible
    3) Keep your tank full whenever possible

    I agree that you should crack your "fill tank" valve whenever possible to make sure that water is circulating, BUT this doesn't work when being supplied from another source (you'll create one hell of a puddle under the truck) or you're pumping from your tank and you're approaching the limits that the tank-to-pump can supply. For instance, you have a 3" tank-to-pump and you're flowing two 1-3/4" lines, if you open the "fill tank" much at all, you'll start cavitating your pump.

    IMHO, if you're steadily flowing water, as during initial extinguishment ops, keep the "fill tank" closed and let the relief valve do its job. Once you're in to mop-up, then crack the "fill tank" if possible, BUT also throttle the truck down...
    Simpleguy...

    A good point to bring up here is that most pumps today lack an old fashioned discharge relief valve, and are now operating with electronic pressure governors. Rather than that water being diverted through the relief valve when the lines shut down, now the engines are just idling down and the water stops flowing, requiring some other discharge to be open for water to circulate/flow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MG3610 View Post
    Simpleguy...

    A good point to bring up here is that most pumps today lack an old fashioned discharge relief valve, and are now operating with electronic pressure governors. Rather than that water being diverted through the relief valve when the lines shut down, now the engines are just idling down and the water stops flowing, requiring some other discharge to be open for water to circulate/flow.
    That old fashioned relief valve does not provide flow through the pump, it provides flow within the pump. Discharge relief valves are plumbed directly from the discharge side to the suction side of the pump. No new cool water is provided. Overheat is still a distinct possibility if it is the only thing being used.

    When a modern governor does idle down the engine, less energy is being transferred to the water to boil it. Unfortunately, if the pump is set for a pressure the engine will not go to idle but the RPM needed to maintain that pressure. It just takes a little longer before you hear the BBs explode.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firepundit View Post
    That old fashioned relief valve does not provide flow through the pump, it provides flow within the pump. Discharge relief valves are plumbed directly from the discharge side to the suction side of the pump. No new cool water is provided. Overheat is still a distinct possibility if it is the only thing being used.

    When a modern governor does idle down the engine, less energy is being transferred to the water to boil it. Unfortunately, if the pump is set for a pressure the engine will not go to idle but the RPM needed to maintain that pressure. It just takes a little longer before you hear the BBs explode.
    Good point, thats a big duh on my part. I got lost in the comparison of how the governors do not function like a relief valve in regulating water flow, versus controlling engine speed. I know Hale's TPM Relief valve also has an out let to the atmosphere for certain surges that cant be handled through the discharge side relief portion of the system.

    I believe most rigs are being used in Pressure mode as well (some mfrs set them to default to PSI mode), making your point about the pressure staying constant very valid.

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    Thankyou all for your knowlegeable responses. This is why I come here! I want to stress again that I am taking the class, but I also enjoy self education through trial and error, books, and places like this. KuhShise, I read your comments on waterous reliefs on the post you linked and picked up a lot of tips. I was wondering if you or anyone else had any tips on darley reliefs?
    Last edited by fordrules; 02-25-2009 at 08:16 PM.

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    SET THE MAXI BRAKE!!

    Hey it happens too often.

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    fordrules: I haven't had the opportunity to play with Darley for a long time. I seemed to remember that it was very similar to the Watrous operation in that there was an off - on switch...So I pulled out the Pump Operators Handbook by Iseman... There are two ways to turn off the Darley. One is the 4 way valve on the pilot and the second is to crank in the main spring on the main relief valve. (clockwise) This forces the end of the shaft aganst the back of the relief valve piston holding it in the closed position. Under normal operating conditions the main relief shaft is to be fully opened (CCW) to allow the valve to move as controlled by the pilot assembly. There is also a drain valve associated with the screen that protects the pilot assembly from dirt. This valve should be periodically opened to flush the screen assembly while operating. The recommendation is to remove and clean the screen after every operation. Also very emphatic about exercising the whole assembly regularly to prevent sticking. Sorry I can't be of more help. Kuh Shise

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    Quote Originally Posted by KuhShise View Post
    Sorry I can't be of more help. Kuh Shise
    You have been of great help, just like everyone elso who replied.

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    fordrules - "I also understand that on hydrants you don't want less than 20psi, and there is a percentage rule on how many discharges based off of pressure difference between residual and static."

    Yes. I'll attach a water supply analysis graph and try to explain what to look for as you add more lines. First, to help understand hydrant flow the following theoretical test is made to determine hydrant capability. An engine with a prepiped deck gun is fitted with a 2" nozzle and connected to the hydrant with a 20 ft. 5" soft sleeve. Static pressure is checked and is found to be 80 psi. Next flow the deck gun and bring the nozzle pressure up to 80 psi as read on a pitot gauge in the fire stream. This will be 1063 gpm. Find the 80 psi on the left margin of the graph (static pressure) and place a point. Next read the compound gauge when the flow from the nozzle is at the 1063 gpm point (32 psi incoming hydrant pressure). Mark this point on the graph and draw a line from the 80, 0 through the 32, 1063 and extend it to the base (zero psi) line. You can now determine the residual pressure for any flow from the hydrant. At 1000 gpm there will be less than 1 psi friction loss in the soft sleeve, so it can be ignored. Please note that 20 psi residual will be about 1200 gpm, and that continuing down to zero on the compound will only get you an additional 200 gpm. This is a little increase, but a huge risk concerning contaminating the potable water supply or risking collapse of hot water tanks or grid piping.
    A single 2 1/2" line at 250 gpm drops the static by about 4 psi or 5% of the static pressure. A 5% or less drop should allow at least 3 additional lines of equal size or 750 gal more. and indeed the line shows about 35 psi residual at 1,000 gpm. If you were busy and didn't get a chance to check hydrant drop until you had both a 2 1/2 and an 1 3/4" line operating... (400 gpm) About 72 psi or an 8 psi drop is a 10% loss then you should be able to say Hey Chief I have about 2 more lines or 800 gpm more. The graph verifies your estimate that at 1200 gpm there is still a 20 psi residual. This would be the flat out supply for the engine on this hydrant ...if no one else hooked into the system.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    While I understand what you're saying about the relief valve, once you go from extinguishing to mop up, by all means open up the fill tank. But while flowing water (by this I mean the discharges are open and you're actively fighting fire) leave the tank fill closed and let the governor or relief valve work. This is where the pump operator must keep an eye on his apparatus. Once he/she sees that there's no longer a steady flow, at that point open up the fill tank.

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