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Thread: Troubleshooting experiences, pumping problems and how you solved them?

  1. #1
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    Default Troubleshooting experiences, pumping problems and how you solved them?

    Hi folks, I have a couple of great firefighters studying for engineer, can you please share some challenges you have faced while pumping (fire ground or training) and how you solved it.

    For example, citizen running over your LDH, debris in supply line (after flushing hydrant)...

    Hope to use some of these experience to learn as a crew. Thank you.

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    1. loss of water supply on hydrant-broken hydrant or pipe=switch hydrants
    2. pump came out of pump gear - was known mechanical issue= had to shut engine down and reset, once had to manually take PTO out of gear
    3. have had many cars and pickups run over 4" supply line never had issue
    4. have had a supply line not want to connect to piston intake using stortz = either have to switch side of engine, take stortz off (very time consuming) or (get some one to help) put enough 'butt' on it a make connection
    Look at NFPA 1410 drill for some set up ideas to drill on
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    Default Thank you

    Any problem with apparatus running over the 4" hose? Thanks for taking the time to reply.

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    Understand basic, high school physics. Everything we do is rooted in physics. If we understand that and its application to apparatus and pumps, we can dope out problems that we've never seen or heard of before.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biggie55 View Post
    Any problem with apparatus running over the 4" hose? Thanks for taking the time to reply.
    Have had company drop their 4" bed prematurely, then police cars get stuck on the couplings.
    Biggie55 likes this.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    electric actuated intake valve wouldn't open, had to pull piston intake valve off and move to other steamer.
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    ?

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    Nozzle is calling for more water and the discharge gauge is reading at or above the requisite psi = check for kinks or closed valve.
    Nozzle is calling for more water and the discharge gauge is reading below requisite psi = burst line or if no burst line another open discharge.
    Knowing what the panel is supposed to be reading first, can help the pump operator immediately determine where the issue lies.
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    4" getting run over = none for me, but got lucky. had PD sittting right there when one person drove over 4" with front wheels, made them sit/leave car until we were done- about 45min. know of others that had cars cause small tear / pinhole leaks.

    like others said, learn the hydraulics - i know its math, then learn to operate the rigs (take aerial class if you have one). water comes in, water gets spun around, water goes to fire....break it down into those parts and see where a failure could occur. have a good understanding of the operation of the truck by knowing as much as possible, makes trouble shooting easier.we have a decent d/e training book. if possible sit and watch / talk to the mechanics during maintence and testing of truck and pump

    some of my biggest challenges....
    water supply - either failure or not enough for needs
    wrong nozzle / psi set up - didnt know they had changed nozzle
    mechanincal failure - see post above #2

    sorry for long post, kinda got on roll
    Last edited by pcfrr2; 08-11-2014 at 11:46 PM.
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    We use 5" so it's much more of a problem when cars run over it. If we catch them, we make them sit until the fire is out, and taking up the 5" will be the last thing we do, we want the cops to have plenty of time to write the citation.
    I've been on a couple of fires where the water main broke as well, they had to go to a different main.
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    Pumping Problems:
    CE11 is absolutely correct… A pump operator MUST understand the physics behind the movement of water from the source to the fire. Then, when something unusual occurs, there is a good chance that the operator will be able to figure out the cause and devise a solution.
    If you draft, understanding how the water arrives in the pump will help the operator solve any drafting problems he encounters. This modern suction hose using Pyrolite couplings is prone to getting dirt in the swivels, or having the moving part of the swivel gall to the stationary coupling bowl. New firefighters helping to hook up frequently fail to tighten hard sleeve connections sufficiently, then when the primer is operated the gasket gets pulled inward, causing a leak. If you now tighten (rubber mallet) the connection you have just insured the leak stays there until the joint is loosened and then re-tightened. You won’t find this with the motor running as motor noise covers the noise of the leak. Shut the motor down and operate the primer (electric) and then listen for leaks. You can also find leaks in drains & especially in the modern relay relief valves with damaged seats.
    When you have been operating at draft and you suddenly find a drop in output pressure, but the engine RPM is still nearly the same or slightly higher, suspect that the strainer is getting plugged. We occasionally get to train on ponds with a large population of geese. These ponds quickly develop heavy concentrations of algae. The green stringy stuff plugs strainers and restricts flow. Fall leaves are another problem that results in plugged strainers. You might need to remove the hard sleeve at the engine to pull out algae or leaves from the intake strainer at the pump steamer connection. A grease pencil is a valuable tool for marking both RPM on the tachometer, and to mark discharge and intake pressures on the gauges, to keep track of changes and stability. This is also a great help when the need arises to change pump operators, since the new operator can instantly see if everything continues to run correctly. Some firefighters unintentionally cause problems when operating at draft by failing to eliminate the standard type of Storz fittings on the draft side of the engine. A standard Storz fitting is NOT designed to work at draft, and allows air to enter the suction side of the pump under vacuum conditions. When you have adapted an intake to a relay relief valve and Storz fittings, you must remove the relay valve and the Storz from the intake. Do not adapt your hard sleeve to 5” Storz, and think it will properly seal. The design of a Storz gasket is made to seal from internal pressure, and will leak under vacuum. YES, there are Storz connections designed for vacuum, but they are special gaskets with bumps molded into the rubber, and usually fold-out lug handles to aid in seating the couplings. (Vacuum Tanker Suctions)
    Recognizing cavitation is an absolute must when working from the tank or from draft. Try having a new pump operator feed a deck gun with a 1 ” tip at 110 psi out of the tank. He will quickly learn that this is impossible. (most engines have limited tank to pump capacity of about 600 gpm) It will allow you to instruct him to watch his RPM, and when rpm increases, without a corresponding increase in output pressure, you have reached cavitation. Cavitation from draft is a bit more difficult to discern, however a single 6” suction of 20 ft. and a lift of 8 to 10 feet will NOT produce more than about 1650 gpm. Hanging two master stream devices with 1 ” tips will allow you to demonstrate cavitation quite easily. Carry a piece of clear plastic (heavy) in your pocket. When he isn’t looking, slip the plastic into the drop tank and cover part of the holes in the strainer. Instant cavitation! Does NOT work well with a low level strainer, but with a little inventiveness you can find a way to cause problems for the operator. Pony suction drains and bumping the valve handle will cause loss of prime quite rapidly. Keeping a line or discharge operating back into the drop pond or source will be a great benefit to keeping the prime when doing mop-up or overhaul and low flow situations. A portable pump feeding the opposite side of the drafting engine will improve the amount of water you can send to the fire. Use this technique to get your prime in case of a primer failure. a. Connect your hard sleeve and place it in the water source. b. Get the portable pump operating and connect the output of the portable to the pony suction on the side opposite the hard suction. c. open a discharge on the pump and flow water out of the discharge. d. Slowly raise the rpm while slowly opening the discharge valve. As long as water is discharging through the output, the air can’t get back to the pump to break the prime. With a little practice this technique will get you a prime eventually. Do not allow the operator to use the primer.
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    Excellent subject matter and thank you. Personal experience. Gas tanker on fire. 10 wheeler and pup. Fully involved. Theoretically we had four (4) green top plugs to use. Over 1000 gpm each. Four engines pumping, each from one plug. Problem was, nobody back then, (they DO now) had ever flowed more than one plug at a time for plug testing. It was felt it was not necessary! Yikes! After all, they were on 8-10" mains. Big mistake. It was very necessary. We did not actually have 4000-5000+gpm. AT FIRST we had no more than about 2500-2800gpm; or less? Dunno. Oh boy.

    Everything was fine until that 4th Engine hooked up its four 2.5" lines and started to pump them. Multiple 2.5" hand lines and a couple of Stangs with initial 500 gpm tips. My residual pressure crashed from 30 psi to less than 5 psi. We were sucking the water mains dry. Luckily the Assistant Chief Incident Commander had changed tactics and backed off a bit until the 5th and 6th incoming Engines could lay 3" pumped supply lines from further plugs. The water company emergency pumps saved the day. The shortage was short. Maybe 10-15 minutes. Then back to 30-35psi.

    A physical runner had to be employed to verbally tell my Captain what was happening with my residual pump pressure. I still do not know to this day if all of this was pure blind luck with my having NO water to pump and having the incident commander, (the A/C) switch from hand lines to a defensive nature with the aforementioned Stangs. It is possible he knew what was happening. Pretty sharp guy. Long dead today. Or...it could have been pure blind luck that his switch of tactics dovetailed with all of his four 1st alarm Engines having practically NO water. Crazy how things work out.

    I also could NOT get through the pump panel radio to any command authority. Another problem. He had switched frequencies and I did not know it. We got the gas fire out and the three houses close to the tanker did NOT burn, which was surprising. The problem was that just after the fact, nobody understood exactly what had happened. It has been corrected now with ISO help. This is ancient history and may not help today. Today my old outfit has water and safety officers who automatically go on such fires. Not then. Things have greatly improved. HB of CJ (old coot)

    PS; They also carry 6" LDH and usually reverse lay and pump the 6". End of problem. Fire Department Delivered Water Supply hopefully will prevent stuff like this from happening. That plus better communications. This happened about in 1976. Vacuum tube era. Tailboards. Open cabs. Manual trannies. You get the idea. A very long time ago.
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    Excellent feedback, thank you. I appreciate the detailed scenarios.

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    biggie: I just went back to the original post and looked at your questions. Driving over LDH is a problem with any POV or apparatus. Imagine the forces being exerted upon the jacket and lining as the tires begin to make contact. 5", if it is filled, usually skids on the pavement before the vehicle finally jumps up on it. Tears in the jacket from abrasions, catching the under-carrage or contacting the catalytic converter or exhaust can cause rupture. This puts your interior crews in great danger. Least understood, but most dangerous is driving over dry, flat hose. As the tire climbs (pinches) the edge between the tire and pavement, it places internal forces on the lining bond that may be enought to loosen the lining from the weave. Now you have a disaster waiting to happen at a critical time when large volumes of water are flowing through the hose & rip a piece of loose liner off the inside of the joint. This ends up plugging the strainer, valve or nozzle in a second operation weeks or years after the initial damage was sustained.

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    First, I do NOT like hose clamps for LDH; however they do have a place under certain circumstances. Insist that your engineers do a proper dressing of hydrants when hooking up. By this I mean they should put at least one and maybe if there is enough time, install two - 2 1/2" valves on the hydrant while hooking with soft sleeve to the steamer. If debris then blocks the intake (steamer) on the engine, it will be possible to patch in one or two short pieces of 2 1/2" between the hydrant valves and pony suction on the engine. One 2 1/2 will handle about 300 gpm with 15 psi loss in 50 feet from the hydrant to the engine. Turn off the steamer intake valve and use the 5" clamp on the soft sleeve at the hydrant. Disconnect the soft sleeve at the engine and remove the debris. reconnect and reopen the clamp. If you do not have a valve on the steamer intake to the truck... place the clamp on the soft sleeve and close. Choke back the pony suction(s) until the pump intake is slightly negative & then it is possible to remove the steamer connection for the several seconds it takes to shake out the stones and/or debris from the end of the soft sleeve. Key to making this work is... When you start to unscrew the steamer connection, water should NOT forcefully squirt out of the threads. If it does, choke back the pony suction a little more, or open another discharge until the intake reaches zero. (no squirting)
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    just thought of another odd ball incident -- had an engine drafting from a porta tank on top of a hill, had a 3" line feeding a second engine down in a hole (valley) -it was at least 400 feet or more drop. Even with the drafting engine at a low idle (I think it was 50 psi pdp) -and the intake gated down on the "attack" engine there was still to much pressure on the handlines. (we were mopping up)What I did was open the tank fill let the water fill the tank (and "absorb" the pressure) and then pump from the tank. I ued my tank fill valve to regulate the tank level so it wouldn't overflow.
    I have since been told , I could have taken the attack engine out of gear and let the impellor help lower the pressure and also taken the drafting engine out of pump and let it siphon , reducing the 50 psi.

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