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  1. #1
    Todd Trimble
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Multiple Dump Tank Operations

    An issue came up last night at the station, and I turn to the collective for ideas. In our rural setting, we have several departments with shuttles and dump tanks. We took delivery of our second this week. Now we're developing SOP and training for using multiple dump tanks simultaneously. One option is to set up two tanks and draft out of them seperately, moving the suction from one to the other as necessary. This gets manpower/labor intensive when you're pumping a lot of water. Another option is to use wyed and gated suction from both tanks. This could get complicated when scaled up to more than two tanks. Finally, there are all those pictures in Essentials and the mags with multiple tanks cascaded together using suction. Initial trials we've done showed us to be rather inept at achieving good results this way. It could be that we don't have just exactly the right tools or we're not practiced enough. We get water from one tank to the other, but it takes some babysitting.

    So, anyone tired these or other methods? Anyone have THE answer? We're going to be training a lot on this in the near future, and I'd like to hear some ideas to try.

    FYI We have 2 folding tanks about thigh high. Tankers have gravity dumps both sides and rear. 2200 g tanks, 1800 & 2000 g trucks. Other tanks & trucks on mutual aide list are similar. Some trucks dump only rear, some tanks a few inches taller or shorter.

    Thanks for any suggestions...

    ------------------
    Todd Trimble
    Fairland Volunteer Fire Department



  2. #2
    resqcapt
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    Todd,

    While I certainly don't claim to have THE answer, I can tell you one way that works for both districts I am affiliated with.

    Equipment is one of the best investments you can make to accomplish using multiple porta tanks. We purchased several low level strainers with jet-siphon 1 1/2" female intakes. This strainer is placed on one end of a hard suction hose. The strainer is then placed in the "secondary" tank (the one the pumper is not drafting from.) The open end is then placed in the "primary" tank (the one the pumper is drafting from.) The hard suction is secured usually with rope or webbing.

    An 1 3/4" line is attached to the intake on the low level strainer. When this line is charged, it helps create a siphon and allows transfer of water between the two porta tanks. The water level in the tanks must be monitored by the Engineer so he can control water transfer.

    Our normal S.O.P. is to immediately establish two porta tanks on any no-water area fire. (Our 3000 gallon tanker carries two 3000 gallon porta tanks.) I've seen up to 6 porta tanks being used on one fire.

    If you do not have the funds to purchase this strainer, you can make one relatively cheap. Our first one was homemade. It doesn't work as well as the low-level ones because it can leave as much as 6-8" of water in the tank. This is a lot of wasted water if you can't transfer it to the primary tank.

    Oh well, enough of my rambling, I hope it helps. As I said before, both my career and volunteer districts use this method and it works very well for us.

    Stay safe and keep the water moving!

    Steve

  3. #3
    K A
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    The drop tank folks make connectors that attach to the drains allowing them to couple together making one big tank, no need to siphon.

  4. #4
    Ken Apel
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    My department and our auto aid departments use the 12 inch dump tubes with connector rings and it works very well for us. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that all your tanks are going down at the same time.

  5. #5
    resqcapt
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question

    KA and Ken,

    I've heard about that technique and that it works very well. Never seen it used though. I do have one question. How do you set up consecutive tanks after the first one or two are filled with water?

    Any info. would be appreciated. We are having our ISO rating re-evaluated soon and this would help us with our tanker shuttle operation. This would eliminate ISO from deducting 125 gpm for each line used for water transfer.


    Thanks guys,

    Steve

  6. #6
    K A
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    KA and Ken,
    I've heard about that technique and that it works very well. Never seen it used though. I do have one question. How do you set up consecutive tanks after the first one or two are filled with water?


    You use a bar clamp. It shuts the drain off till you connect it.

    We are having our ISO rating re-evaluated soon and this would help us with our tanker shuttle operation. This would eliminate ISO from deducting 125 gpm for each line used for water transfer.


    ISO will subtract the 125 gpm from your pump capacity.


    Not using a transfer device is one less thing you won't have to show ISO.

  7. #7
    Dalmation90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Connecting portable ponds by the drains?
    Neat!
    That just took away about 75% of what I don't like about using them.


  8. #8
    Smurph
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I agree with ResqCapt. We and several neighbor Depts. use Jet Transfer from from one to several tanks at a time. It's really suprising to see a full 6" column of water transfer from one tank to another by using only a 1 & 1/2" or 1 & 3/4"

    Steve

  9. #9
    K A
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    If you get into a 3 or 4 drop tank operation you'll need 2 or 3 transfers (400 gpm) Pump capacity minus 400 gpm equals??? A 6 inch siphon has a limit of way less than 1000 gpm, often times I've seen 3 or 4 employed between tanks to keep up, needs people to monitor each one or you over flow the tanks. If the source tank fails, you are out of business and ISO leaves and will not come back for a year. Each firefigher involved in water movement does not count in your staffing totals. Transfer devices commonly exit the drop tanks when not tied down wasting water. Tieing them down takes time and people. The 125 gpm figure for transfer is a bit optimistic, as EP's go up and down so does your flow. Trnasfers often interrupt the vacuum of the draft strainer. Ideally all dumping would occur away from the source drop tank. They siphons don't work as well as tank volume drops, place a higher demand and venturi on the strainer making less water usable in the drop tank than the same strainer at a lower flow. If you don't carry sufficint hard suction, and transfer devices on the initial attack pieces you will not be allowed by ISO to count water transfer.

  10. #10
    Phred
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Arrow

    Regarding siphon transfer operations: An idea that we have used is to set up a second engine at the dump site to operate the siphons. The siphon engine drafts from an end tank so that it doesn't steal water from the primary relay engine, and can also use it's tank water to keep the siphons operating if water gets low in the end tank.

  11. #11
    Todd Trimble
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Wink

    First, thanks to those with ideas. It sounds like we're not the only dept interested in getting this worked out. We're not up for an ISO soon, but I feel for those who are...

    Now, re: connecting tanks via the drains. It's been talked about, but the only method anyone knew of was a homebrewed connector of ratchet straps and PVC. We envisioned this turing into a race between the engine and the leaks to see who got more of the water. I'll have to look for couplings from the manufacturers. The other issue is the number of drains on the tanks. I haven't looked at the new one, but I'm certain the old tank has exactly one drain. That would mean we could only connect two tanks together. Is that all you're using, or do your tanks have more than one drain?

    Thanks again!

    ------------------
    Todd Trimble
    Fairland Volunteer Fire Department


  12. #12
    Ray R
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    We have used the jet siphon system for a number of years. The transfer works well until you get into master stream use and then it will not keep up. We normally run about 75 PSI on the jet siphon which seems to be adequate to fill a 6" suction hose. We do not use a low level strainer on the tank as most will deliver 500GPM maximum.

    Do not use too many tanks at one location. Training and actual use found that a maximum of four tanks interconnected is all one operator can manage effectively.

    All tankers used in the operation should have similiar dump capacity. If one takes a lot longer to unload than the others, it will tie up your shuttle. Tankers with side dump capability are prefereable to rear dumps when tankers can be driven along side the tank.

  13. #13
    Ken Apel
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    We have two tanks, one has two tubes and one has only one tube. We have to be careful how we set up to avoid getting that one tube job next to the engine. We were able to purchase the flanges and rings from our supplier but I don't know where they got them from. The system consists of a 12 inch flange clamped to the end of the tube. A flat gasket is used between that flange and the flange from the next tank.A large snap ring covering the edge of both flanges is snapped on. Pull the tanks as far apart as you can to keep from kinking and you're all set.No loss in gpm, no man handling hard suction hose. The bar clamp will keep water loss to a minimum until you have completed your hook up.If you haven't tried it, you may be missing a great idea but like every thing else, what woks for me may not work for you.

  14. #14
    Mike C
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Using another engine to operate the transfer lines means you don't own the engine or the crew to ISO.

    When you figure almost every departmetn in the country has a Class 9 rating in the rural areas, who care if ISO is due, get after it and figure this water thing out and give the public a break. They are probably paying rediculous insurance rates because the FD doesn't have a clue what they are doing.

    Simply order your tanks with two drains or send them back and have one more added. Gravity only works to 2000 to 2500 gpm though. For higher flows you use a horizontal transfer through the drains.

    Dual suctions is much better than a single out of a drop tank. Use a pair of 3 inch. Run one off the big and one off the small suxtion. Put one in each drop tank. You can attain flows of 1200 gpm and not have to worry about transfer. Figure 150 gpm per tanker maximum in a shuttle> If you are flowing 1000 gpm it won't be for long unless you got 7 tanker or more and lots of drop tanks.

    We've used as many as 7 tanks connected and the two best rural departmentns in the country reported use as many 11 and flow 3100 to 7700 gpm in a shuttle.

    They happen to use tanker from 800 gallons to 5000 gallons with a whole range of dump times and fill times plus some have rear and some have rear dumps and other pump off. They say the key is lots of dump space offered by lots of tanks, multiple suctions, connecting tanks together, and multiple fill sites. In other words they don't buy all the excuses in all the text books.

    The end of the day they figured out what they were doing. Neither has the automatic aid and mutual aid apparatus all of you have.



  15. #15
    Dalmation90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Figure 150 gpm per tanker maximum in a shuttle> If you
    are flowing 1000 gpm it won't be for long unless you got 7 tanker or more
    and lots of drop tanks.

    Really need to test you're own tankers...our area range from 120-250 gpm/mile from water source...and we can flow 1000gpm with no drop tanks, but that's approaching our top end to a single base tanker. As distance increases, add more tankers to make the flows.

    Whatever you do, tanker shuttles are manpower intense, and anything you can do to free up those guys to actually fight fire is a good thing!

    Here's a question for everyone...how many people do you end up with on tanker shuttle duty (not including the tanker drivers...). We can run it with as few as maybe 4, but to run it really well, it takes at least 7 at the dump site, and 5 at the fill (The extra manpower reduces connection time at the fill/dump sites)

    As for "exorbinate" insurance, that's another thing you should check locally too. I don't have a lot of data, but in my case it was 20% reduction from 9 to 5 when I pointed out to my insurance company which area I was in. But in real dollars on my small house (600sq.ft ranch, roughly $75,000 assesment on the house) going from $250 to $200 a year. Multiplied around town, that's real money, but not as dramatic as other areas of the country. I guess the point is don't plan on savings like there is in the magazines to find out your local conditions are way different, but there is still money there!

    Matt

  16. #16
    K A
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Here's a question for everyone...how many people do you end up with on tanker shuttle duty

    One at dump who guides apparatus and the engineer of the attack rig.

    Zero at the fill site. We don't have any fittings to make or break.

    $250 to $200 a year.

    $50 population 20,000 divided by number of residents x iso rerating period is a mere 5 million dollars not counting businesses


  17. #17
    DD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    A factory made tank connector can be found at <www.foldatank.com>. The "Connector", is Fol-Da-Tanks Part # PTCS-10. The standard size is 10 inch.

    They also have a Part # BSLC Bar Sleeve Clamp for control of the flow.

    I am a firefighter, not a salesman. I was looking for low level strainers the other day and found these devices.

  18. #18
    Ken Apel
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    What we have done for manpower to operate the tanker shuttle is recruit older people who can't ( or don"t care to ) be firefighters to drive the tankers and operate the fill pump. Our fill pump is a 1500 gpm low pressure pump mounted on the rear of a pick up truck, not a fire dept. class a pumper. We have found this works very well. We pump thru light hose, use quick connect cam lock or stortz fittings. The chief or officer from an automatic aid department becomes the water supply oficer and stations himself at the dump tanks, sets up a tanker staging area, and takes over all water supply duties freeing the in district chief to fight the fire. Woks very wel for us

  19. #19
    Nick
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    We have built our own 6" jet-siphons that are carried on our tanker and can dump a 2500 gal port-a-tank in about 2 minutes with a 1 1/2" line running about 75 psi. So there is no time wasted in hooking up low flow strainers to hard suction and all that jazz. All we have to di is hook up the handline throw it in the portable tank and tie it down, and start dumping. Its fast, cheap and extremely durable. We made it out of 6" pvc and an elbow. Also, you must remember hydraulics, once the water is flowing through the siphon it will continue to do so even with the hoseline shut off, sure at a lower rate, but it is still a couple of hundred gpm. Try it you will be amazed.

  20. #20
    resqb
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    When I was in a volunteer dept. we used the jet siphon operation w/ a low level strainer
    We do not use a low level strainer on the tank as most will deliver 500GPM maximum.
    . During an ISO shuttle we ran 620 gpm for two housrs using a low level strainer and after we pushed to see how much we could flow and it was in the 900gpm range. It's been 3 1/2 yrs since but I believe it was two siphons and 6 or seven tankers (tenders to you west coast folks) w/ three drop tanks and a 1250 gpm engine w/ two engines at the fill site.
    We've used as many as 7 tanks connected and the two best rural departmentns in the country reported use as many 11 and flow 3100 to 7700 gpm in a shuttle.
    . Tell me this wasn't an ISO shuttle, I could believe maybe 3100gpm in 15 minutes but 7700 within fifteen minutes and sustaining it? WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If you are going to do a shuttle for ISO heres a little advice You have five minutes to get the minimum flow started so build up your water supply for 4-4 1/2 minutes and then pull your draft and start the minimum flow. Same w/ your target flow, you have 15 minutes to get there. Use 14 of it to build up for that just in case problem (mechanical failure) Just my two cents...

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