1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question To Prime, or not to Prime?

    I realize this isn't necessarily an earth shattering topic, but I've received mixed responses when I've asked the following questions locally...

    Do you prime your pump everytime you intend to flow water? Or, do you leave the pump "full" for the next fire?

    I realize many variables can play into this question such as rural settings with a water shuttle, city water service with hydrants, and weather. I'm interested to hear your opinions. Do you prime everytime? Are your actions governed by SOP's (SOG's)? Or. is it a matter of personal choice?

    Keep it safe out there folks!!!

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    My dept. runs with the pumps wet year round. During the morning check out the primer is tested to make sure it works. As long as the pump doesn't leak too much it should hold the prime. When i'm the driver/operator for the day, after putting the pump in gear and trans in drive, i look at the master pressure gauge. If it shows a pressure (usually 30 psi) i know the pump is primed and i don't need to pull the primer.

    During the winter months i do the same thing but i leave the tank-to-pump valve and the tank-fill valve open. If the valves should freeze at least they are in the open position. Once we arrive at the scene of a call i'll put the rig in pump to circulate water so the pump doesn't freeze. This seems to work well for my dept.

  3. #3
    Jim M.
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Here in the Northeast it gets COLD in the winter. Pumps are drained after every use. Drains are normally left open so any minor dripping will not cause freezing problems. A magnetic flag is on pump panel to remind pump operator to close drains and prime pump. Prior to doing this we had pumps freeze solid on the road to a call. Now, the "relatively warmer" tank water can flow thru the pump without the effect of a 55 mph wind on the pump casing. During the warm season (both days) we leave pumps wet.
    - - - - - - - - -
    Jim M.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We run wet three seasons...dry in the winter.

    Our first due has an air-actuated tank to pump valve...on final approach, the driver flips the switch in the cab, and the pump is flooded by the time the truck arrives on scene.

    At many fires, our Engine, 2nd due ET, and Ladder may all stay on scene without moving water for an hour or two...this would not be a good scene on a cold winter mornings with wet pumps!

  5. #5
    Tom Lafleur
    Firehouse.com Guest


    LOL on your warm season jim !!!
    We run wet,except in the winter,when we drain the pump and leave the drains open. When we arrive on scene we close the drains and open the tank to pump valve, and instant water. We only pull the prime when we are drafting.

  6. #6
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I'm not sure why this is an issue at all, really...we run with pumps wet, except in the winter, and prime if needed. If you put the pump in gear, pull the tank to pump, turn the throttle up a little, and get no pressure, you prime. If you're drafting, you prime. If you have pressure in the pump without priming, you skip it.

    Am I missing something here??

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest



    You're not missing a thing...

    Like I said in the beginning, this isn't an earth shattering topic. I was just interested in what YOU or YOUR department does. The departments I work for follow the same procedure, however there are a few individuals that I know that believe in priming the pump everytime. That's all.

    Stay safe!

  8. #8
    K A
    Firehouse.com Guest


    ===If you're drafting, you prime. ===

    We rarely if ever use a primer to get a draft from a static source.

  9. #9
    The Snake Man
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Bob Snyder really has the right idea. Keep it simple. Get the job done. I have learned from alot of veterans to keep it simple and get the wet stuff on the red stuff safely. If you really want to complicate things leave a discharge open and just pull tank to pump. This allows the air to escape using gravity, when you see water then your primed. However, by the time you do all of that just go ahead and pull prime.

    The Snake Man!
    Keep it above the water line!

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    we keep the pumps wet, but as a habit i pull the primer. do i have to No but i do. i learned that in pump school to always prime, but this pump school was geared towards volly companies in the county that have to draft at most of there fires. k.m.



  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In freezing weather, pumps are dry. If we are first due unit, or running a mutual aid tanker to neighboring department, pump operator pulls tank suction as soon as he is standing at the pump panel. While lines are being pulled, operator throttles up above idle, and opens tank fill to allow air to escape the pump.

    If pressure starts to build, then no need to prime, if not, close tank fill, pull primer, and try again. This takes no more than 15 seconds, and works fine. I don't see that any special procedures need to be in place. This is common sense pump operations, and shows the importance that pump operators need to know what to do when water doesn't come out. I would rather have a pump operator that knows what to do when things don't work than one that can calculate all the hydraulic losses in his head while I am on a hose line.

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In my dept we run with a wet pump for the most of the year. I think if you check with your pump manufacture they will tell that using the primer every time you use the pump in tank operations is good for the primer. When i teach new operators i tell them to always use to primer on tank op's, but if they use the primer when hooked to a hydrant say you don't know me.

  13. #13
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Red face

    - It never would have even occurred to me to prime on a street hydrant.

    - As far as waiting until the lines are pulled, it's probably only a marginal difference, but I prefer to know right from the start that there's water ready to go. If I'm going to flow hand lines from the tank, even temporarily, the first thing I do out of the cab is set up to re-circulate and prime if I need it to get pressure on the pump. I want water flowing the second I open a discharge.

    - As far as drafting without using the primer, yea, you can do it. Where's the advantage? Why would I bother (other than in the event of primer failure)?

  14. #14
    K A
    Firehouse.com Guest


    --- As far as drafting without using the primer, yea, you can do it.--

    takes less time to teach, no fittings to hammer, no caps to tighten.

    --Where's the advantage?--

    It takes less than 10 seconds for one, 2 why use a primer when you don't need to, 3 when pumping off the tank using a primer to get a draft endagers the interior attack crews a does adding a second or third hard sleeve.

    --Why would I bother (other than in the event of primer failure)?--

    see above

  15. #15
    Truckie from Missouri
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    K A,

    I've noticed that you're quite crusty at times. I could care less about that. More power to ya, in fact. It'd be fun to have you at the station!

    However, you seem to know it all, and while you ARE correct with what you say re: prime/no prime, instead of belittling everyone, why not provide the less experienced with the benefit of your experience? Tell them how to do something, not just that it's better.

    Proud Member of IAFF Local 3133!

    Stay safe.

  16. #16
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest


    ...it endangers the attack crews...

    I think I get it...you're working from the scenario that the attack piece is going to setup, go into operation from the tank, then draft directly from a porta-tank, or that its only immediate supply is from its own tank. We don't set up this way to begin with.

    We generally setup with the attack piece (usually a quint with only 400 gals of water to start with) being fed through LDH from an engine somewhere nearby (like a nearby intersection, or the end of the lane). The first tanker in (usually a tanker-pumper in the 3000 gal range) is temporarily used as a nurse for the quint until everything else is set up, then drops its direct supply line and it joins the relay. Much of the time, you can put the fire out with just the quint and the tanker anyway, so the rest is an exercise in being prepared just in case. In fact, if that 3500 gals of water (more or less) can't do at least most of the job when properly applied, we're probably not talking about an interior attack in the first place, at least not on a residential fire. Most of the commercial or industrial structures we cover are in either hydranted areas or have their own ponds with dry hydrants, so it's not an issue there.

    Anyway, with the setup we use, the tankers can run around in circles slightly away from the scene, the quint & ladder (and sometimes an engine dedicated to exposures) can do their things at the scene, and nobody gets in anybody else's way.

    With all this going on, it's not really going to matter how (primer or otherwise) that operator on that engine at the dump site in that intersection primes that pump, as long as it gets primed and water is flowing before we blow through that 3500 or so gals at the scene.

    K A probably won't like this setup, but we use it in the field, and it works out just fine.

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