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Thread: prototype water truck

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    Default prototype water truck

    hey guys i'm building a new design of water trucks. and i would like some advice on the design. the main purpose of the truck will be to fill the 1500 gallon porta tanks. it currently has a 200gpm volume pump and a newton 10 inch dump valve. i will be adding work lights and strobes. i will also be adding a shovel, axe and pick mounts. the bumper will be a spare air tank. what are some of the things you guys have liked and disliked about these type of trucks? thanks guys
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    another pic
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    Whatever you do don't put red lights and a siren on that thing! Talk about top heavy with a short wheel base. Throw in some firefighters that rarely drive heavy trucks with a little adrenaline and you have a vehicle designed for LODD's. Sorry to be a wet blanket but we need to be moving away from recognized dangers. Your truck isn't new in any way, it's been done with oil tanks and military surplus over and over with very similar results.

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    I understand that the concept of military surplus not being a new idea. I was mainly refering to how i built the truck. And you are right it wont get sirens or anything like that. Its sole purpos will be to just fill the 1500 gallon porta tanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Whatever you do don't put red lights and a siren on that thing! Talk about top heavy with a short wheel base. Throw in some firefighters that rarely drive heavy trucks with a little adrenaline and you have a vehicle designed for LODD's. Sorry to be a wet blanket but we need to be moving away from recognized dangers. Your truck isn't new in any way, it's been done with oil tanks and military surplus over and over with very similar results.
    This is exactly it. It has far too high of a center of gravity to be practical for emergency response by less than experienced drivers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvanArthur View Post
    I understand that the concept of military surplus not being a new idea. I was mainly refering to how i built the truck. And you are right it wont get sirens or anything like that. Its sole purpos will be to just fill the 1500 gallon porta tanks.
    I think you don't have a complete concept of what a tender does. They ALL haul water to fill porta tanks.
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    I agree completely that the thing looks like it has too high of a center of gravity. I think that even driving it non-emergency it's going to be a roll-over hazard. Please at least tell me the tank has baffles. I agree that there is nothing new here, in fact it seems to go back to mistakes we should have learned from.

    After that, I noticed that there is only 1 dump, on the back. Newer tankers are going to dumps on either side to avoid having to back up to the dump site.

    You don't say how big the tank is, but a 200 gpm pump may be kind of small. How fast can you discharge the water through the dump valve and through the pump?
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    I have to agree with my other fire service friends on this.

    While I also don't mean to rain on your parade (and the obvious amount of work you've put into the project), here are some of the thoughts that come to mind.

    1. Who do you expect to market the vehicle to? It will be a hard sell to fire departments for number of reasons:
    • High center of gravity will make it dangerous for emergent responses
    • Fire departments rarely purchase vehicles that can't respond emergently
    • Fire departments stopped purchasing rigs with no exterior compartments about 40 years ago.
    • With only a 200GPM pump, it truly limits the vehicle to a "water hauler" - there's more of a push n the modern fire service to have vehicles that fill two or more roles (i.e.: pumper/tanker).
    • With no side dumps, the vehicle will be forced to back to off load it's water quickly, something we generally try to avoid for safety reasons.
    • Most fire departments won't, for liability reasons, purchase a piece of fire apparatus that doesn't meet NPFA 1901 guidelines for construction (like tank baffling, as mentioned above).

    2. 1500 gallon portable tanks are some of the smaller ones on the market. Why did you select this size tank to use this rig to fill?

    3. I'm not sure what your first service background is, but if you're not familiar with tanker delivery rates, look into this. This rig will have a very hard time keeping up with even the lowest GPM flows in a rural water supply situation.

    Maybe you can take some of our thoughts and put them into an updated version of the vehicle.
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    Thanks guys for critqueing this truck...the tank does have baffles and is a 2500 gallon capacity. the truck will be offers to any rural department that thinks they could have a use for it. it also does have plenty of storage as i'm building boxes to fit between the cab and front of the tank. i do have 3 more trucks like this to build. So the idea would be to make the tank longer and just cut the hieght down to keep the center of gravity down if i'm understanding it correctly. I also will be following the NPFA 1901 construction guidlines there's no way around that. The Higher ups are giving me the full controll of the build but with a small budget. (to start).

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    I believe 1901 will require warning lights and a siren. You can't build it and be compliant with only part of the standard (I like this part but I don't like that part). How will you meet the roll-over requirement? Will you test it on a tilt table or does the chassis have ESC? What is the liability if a fire department is operating it and it doesn't meet 1901 and something happens? Like maybe it rolls over. There are way too many tanker accidents with trucks that are NFPA compliant. Just make sure they spell your name correctly on the lawsuit. (Look up Peter Pirsch)

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    And I forgot one thing: doesn't 1901 require dump capability to all three sides? You'll need to use a swivel dump to meet that portion of the standard. If that's one part of 1901 you like.

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    After looking at the two pictures you posted there were a couple things that came to mind after I got past the fact that your center of gravity will be pretty high.

    How are you going to fill the tank? I didn't see intakes on the rear or the right side. If you want to fill fast you need to go large (4" or larger) and straight into the tank. Reducers are fairly cheap if they are needed to fill with smaller hose but there is nothing worse than having the ability to fill faster but being unable to do so.

    In regards to what you state is plenty of storage, NFPA will tell you what the minimum amount is for the classification you are seeking. From what I can see from the pictures, your concept of plenty of storage and a fire departments concept of plenty of storage are two different things.

    On that same note, you have a lot of wasted space on the sides of the apparatus and personally that would drive me nuts because it's there but I can't use it. I would suggest looking at a poly tank instead of the metal one. They can custom build the tank to your spec's. This would eliminate the wasted space and lower your center of gravity at the same time.

    It's been a while but that M915 has an automatic transmission, correct? How many gears? Initially they had 15 speed air transmissions in them but later went to automatics in A1, A2, etc series. I'd just initially have concerns on how an over the road (semi) tractor shifts with the load vs. a over the road (straight) truck based upon the amount of weight they were designed to pull. Something I would have to think about and do some research on.

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    I'm goint to disagree with some of the posters here.

    Yes, I do agree that your center of gravity is too high, however, I do love the fact that your tanks stops over the wheels. This is an excellent design for fire departments with narrow mountain roads.

    If your current tank is 2500g, drop it to 2000g, or even 1750g, and you will, IMO, have a very practical vehicle for a department looking for a very short wheel base tanker.

    Pump size of 200gpm is, IMO, adequate for nurse operations in most situations. If you are going to nurse, you are likely operating at a smaller fire with likely a single line. 200gpm will be adequate.

    Compartments ... It's a dang tanker. A vehicle like this has one very basic function .. haul water. At most, one compartment to carry fittings and maybe a section or two of hose for filling.

    As far as side dumps, it would just complicate this truck. A swivel dump in the rear would give the option of side or rear dumping, and honestly, that would be all this truck needs.

    I really like your concept here. A vehicle who's purpose and only purpose is to haul water. Period.

    Basic. Uncomplicated. Single purpose.

    Reduce the size of the tanker a little and lower the center of gravity. Add a swivel dump and a couple of fills. Clean off some of the rough edges. And I bet that you will departments that are looking for a simple and basic tanker like this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    I'm goint to disagree with some of the posters here.

    Yes, I do agree that your center of gravity is too high, however, I do love the fact that your tanks stops over the wheels. This is an excellent design for fire departments with narrow mountain roads.

    If your current tank is 2500g, drop it to 2000g, or even 1750g, and you will, IMO, have a very practical vehicle for a department looking for a very short wheel base tanker.

    Pump size of 200gpm is, IMO, adequate for nurse operations in most situations. If you are going to nurse, you are likely operating at a smaller fire with likely a single line. 200gpm will be adequate.

    Compartments ... It's a dang tanker. A vehicle like this has one very basic function .. haul water. At most, one compartment to carry fittings and maybe a section or two of hose for filling.

    As far as side dumps, it would just complicate this truck. A swivel dump in the rear would give the option of side or rear dumping, and honestly, that would be all this truck needs.

    I really like your concept here. A vehicle who's purpose and only purpose is to haul water. Period.

    Basic. Uncomplicated. Single purpose.

    Reduce the size of the tanker a little and lower the center of gravity. Add a swivel dump and a couple of fills. Clean off some of the rough edges. And I bet that you will departments that are looking for a simple and basic tanker like this.
    Single purpose trucks in this economy are a waste of money. Having single purpose trucks means you have to have a separate truck for every single purpose. Unless it's a large dept., smaller suburban and rural dept's can't afford to have those single purpose trucks. They need trucks that can handle several jobs and that overlap other trucks' functions. VERY FEW straight water hauling trucks are being built anymore, and for good reason.
    As for this truck, unless it was spraying to keep down dust on a highway construction site, I don't see a use for it. Sorry, but that's just a bad design, and if anyone gets hurt or killed in it, you may be liable.

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    When it comes to pump size I used to think that 200-250 gpm was fine. That was until we got a tanker with a 500 gpm pump. Even if the grass rig only has a 250 gallon tank, the fill times are greatly reduced and that can make a big difference when you are filling multiple trucks or needing to do so in a hurry. Additionally, if the tanker is relay pumping to an engine the 500 gpm allows the engine to supply the hand line while refilling the on board tank. It might also supply two hand lines but that becomes a tactical debate about dropping dump tanks or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Single purpose trucks in this economy are a waste of money. Having single purpose trucks means you have to have a separate truck for every single purpose. Unless it's a large dept., smaller suburban and rural dept's can't afford to have those single purpose trucks. They need trucks that can handle several jobs and that overlap other trucks' functions. VERY FEW straight water hauling trucks are being built anymore, and for good reason.
    As for this truck, unless it was spraying to keep down dust on a highway construction site, I don't see a use for it. Sorry, but that's just a bad design, and if anyone gets hurt or killed in it, you may be liable.
    I agree that this truck's center of gravity is too high. That being said I do love the fact that the tank stops at the back edge of the rear wheel. I have no idea what type of terrain you respond in, but I can say from experience having spent much of my firefighting career in mountainous areas with some very narrow roads, this truck's overall length would be an absolutely perfect fit for that type of environment.

    Tankers generally perform best when they have a single function, which is to tank water. The key to any tanker shuttle is the ability for the tankers to be nimble and move easily around the fill and dump sites.

    The fact is, if you knock the tank on this truck down to 1750 gallons, it will outperform any 25000 or 3000g tanker in a hilly or mountainous environment.
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    [QUOTE=LaFireEducator;1388238]I have no idea what type of terrain you respond in, but I can say from experience having spent much of my firefighting career in mountainous areas with some very narrow roads, this truck's overall length would be an absolutely perfect fit for that type of environment.

    I'm with LaFire on this one. +1 on keeping it short and simple. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that it'll be top-heavy either; looks like a pretty standard 2500 gallon water tender configuration... anyway, you've almost got it put together, you'll know soon enough. A lot of it has to do with the suspension, if its anything like the hendrickson walking-beam with a heavy biscuit (like my 6x6) I bet it'll do OK. I used to run a 2500 gallon Pete with air-ride, and sweet cheese that was a bad idea! But as long as I kept the tank either FULL or EMPTY and kept my foot out of it everything went OK, and she got around like a billygoat in the backcountry.

    As far as the payload goes, I don't know if its still the case but when we used to contract on state and fed fires, the payrate jumped drastically for a type 2 tender, which starts at 2500 gallons. I wouldn't put anything less than that on a tandem axle really anyway. Pretty sure you could put 1750 on a single axle, and even still be legal!

    "Tactical tenders" (as we call em out here) are a great multi-purpose buildup, with high pressure/high volume pumps and plenty of boxes for wildland gear... but they're rare. Most depts run standard tenders just like this, and the 6x6 chassis would be a big plus. 200 GPM might be a little slow, but you've got the dump for filling tanks, so you'll be all right. And if your 6x6 is the only rig that can Get There, they'll be happy to have it, even if it takes 12 minutes to unload! In the terrain we work in out here, we rarely have the luxury of a steady water supply, so water conservation is a consistent part of operational tactics.

    Last thought; if you haven't already looked at state & fed emergency equipment requirements that's a good place to start. Looks to me like you already have it met though.

    Nice work, and good luck!
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    Disclaimer: I'm an engineer for an apparatus manufacturer (PM me for more info).

    Seeing things like this scare me. You're taking the two main parts of the truck, the chassis and tank, that weren't designed for each other, let alone the fire service, slapping them together and sending it down the road.

    I know that mil surplus chassis are cheap and abundant and very capable off road, but that wasn't meant to be a fire truck. Even modern commercial chassis take a lot of work to make them into fire trucks.

    If you really want to sell these things, you can make some changes and have a much more usable and safer truck:

    First, get rid of that tank and get a poly tank. These are the industry standard and come with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. Go with a wetside, just a big boxy tank, you can even paint it if you want. These tanks have a lower center of gravity compared to an elliptical. You should widen the tank base to somewhere around 48", this will help keep it stable from left to right. With 2500Gal, the manufacturer will require you to have 2-3 mounting brackets along the bottom of the tank. I'm not sure what you've got going on for a tank support system, but most of the tank companies can give you an idea of where to start. Make sure you add a swivel to the rear dump.

    Second, change the body to something more traditional. Add at least 1 compartment behind each of the rear wheels. A lot of manufacturers make use of the space in the fenders as well. If you don't have a dump chute going between the tandems, then there's a good place to store some gear.

    Third, you should seriously consider adding some scene lighting to this truck though, you can never have enough light.

    Lastly, take some time, sit down and read NFPA 1901 through and make notes about what applies to your truck. You're going to want to look at the chassis (specifically the part about center of gravity), crew area, body, pump, and tank sections. If you want to be compliant you'll also need warning lights, but I agree with some of the other posters here and think that putting lights and a siren on this thing is a bad idea.

    I understand that all the things I'm suggesting will add a lot of money to the price of the truck, but they will greatly add to the safety and usability of the truck. If a fire dept can't afford to spend that money today, what will they do next year when that truck rolls over?
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    Default prototype water truck

    I read an article, that if I remember correctly, stated that tanker trucks make up 2% of the fire departments fleets and account for 50% of the accidents.

    The current NFPA 1901-2009 Standard requires that the truck make a 50% tilt table test OR that the chassis be equipped with Electronic Stability Control.

    And that the tank be baffled front to rear and side to side.

    Your chassis is probably not equipped with electronic stability control and I doubt if the truck could pass a 50% tilt table test.

    Need to some more research on your project. The old days of taking a fuel hauler or milk truck and turning into an emergency response vehicle are probably over.
    Last edited by donethat; 10-30-2013 at 09:48 AM.

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    You'll never get this thing up to NFPA standards, and if somebody buys it anyway, your butt will be in court when they wreck it.

    What this sounds like is a volunteer firefighter who is a welder/fabricator at some kind of non-fire service employer has nagged his bosses ("higher-ups") into thinking they can take some used military chassis and some used military tank, dry-hump them together, paint them red, and sell them as a fire tanker. It is not that simple.

    Abort this project.
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