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  1. #1
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    Question Pilot valve/Relief Vlave settings

    I know this has been discussed before, I just didn't want to go searching for it. (sorry)

    There seems to be some confusion regarding the Pilot valve pressure setting on our engines, so I thought I would ask for input.

    We have 1250 gpm single stage Hale pumps in two of our engines that have Pilot valves.

    On several occasions, I have found the pilot valve turned all the way in to the highest setting.

    I don't think this is a very safe operation, because we don't always use the same driver/pump operator.

    The justification has been that the operator can just turn the pilot valve counterclockwise to lower the pressure when and if needed.

    I think this is not utilizing the relief valve properly.

    Any input?

    Thank in advance


  2. #2
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    If you preset the valve every shift I see no problem with this (assuming you have assigned operators). As I see it, there are a number of problems which can arise, but one sticks out in my mind.

    If you preset the valve and then don't move it for some time, corrosion and mineral deposits will build up on the springs and seals inside the valve and change the level at which it trips. Over time this corrostion will build up enough to cause considerable lag in the function of the valve, sometimes even freezing the valve in either the open or close position. This can only be avoided by working the valve, with water flowing, on a regular basis.

    I used to work a combi department where the fulltimers drove the trucks to the scene and the call division would show up on scene. To get a quick attack the duty engineer would preset the valve to the longest 1.75" preconnect so he could leave the pumper and join the attack until another FF'r showed up on scene and took over (and hopfully got a hydrant before the tank ran out). But the key here was that the valve was run in and out every day, so it worked as advertised when needed. I think leaving it cranked in for a week or more is asking for trouble.
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  3. #3
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    I know with the Hale Pilot valve if you leave it cranked all of the way up there is a good chance of stripping the threads out of the adjuster nut. The adjuster is just brass so with the spring tension and vibration from bouncing down the road the threads can tear out. I have had to rebuild quite a few over the years.

    The best maintenance for any valve, relief valve, or any other part of the system is to operate them. It keeps them loose and free of debris. In all honesty how long does it take to turn that hand wheel.

  4. #4
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    "Exercising the valve" and leaving it cracked all the way up are very different. They say "The pump operator can set it for whatever they want". This is true, but why does that mean it has to be left all the way on the highest setting. What happenes when the pump operator forgets to set it and it is LEFT in the highest setting? NOT GOOD. Better to leave it a more reasonable setting and move it to where ever you need it from there.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  5. #5
    Forum Member Fire304's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nmfire
    What happenes when the pump operator forgets to set it and it is LEFT in the highest setting?
    Well, if the pump operator is a operating the pump as he/she should be, the relieve valve should never come into play. Unless you leave the pump unattended (gasp), the operator should be able to throttle down almost as fast as the valve would open. And if you have an auto throttle, even that is a non factor (assuming your auto throttle works, which ours does not as of this writing).

    I guess I'd rather see it left at its highest setting than its lowest. In a perfect world, I'd like to see it preset, on a daily basis, to 225psi (for our 200' preconnects). The danger of leaving it preset is that people will assume its working when it may not be.
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  6. #6
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    IMHO, if you are operating a pump equipped with a relief valve correctly, properly setting the valve should always come into play, assuming it is ideed functional.

    Being able to "throttle down almost as fast" is admirable, but IMO, not as reliable as a properly set, properly operating releif valve.

  7. #7
    Member Engine2WhgFire's Avatar
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    Exclamation My Opinion and our SOP

    Leave it set at highest setting. It should be set when proper pressure is achieved. Too many different pressures for different operations, It should be set whether the operater is at the panel or not. Too much room for human error that way. The engine I drive has an auto throttle that is set after achieving pressure. This works even better. Just my 2 cents.
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  8. #8
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    Our relief valve is rarely used. Mostly because all we really have off our pumper is a couple 1 1/2" lines and 1 or 2 2 1/2" lines. Very rarely are we flowing enough water (master stream going at the same time) that we have to worry about it. With so few lines out, if one person shuts their line off, the pressure increase on the other lines are minimal. We still however train our new pump operators on how to use it in case they encounter a situation where they would need to.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber Engine5FF's Avatar
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    It is the manufacturer's recomended practice (and therefore our practice) on our Waterous pumps that the relief valve be left in the lowest setting when not in use. It's lowest setting is around 90 psi so it is a lot quicker to raise it up to the active presure from here than to bring it down from the top most setting.
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  10. #10
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    I think all of you have some really good replies, and have some experience and knowledge of your craft. Personally, at our department, it is our SOP to manually set the pressure relief at the initial start-up of each use. We are a combination department, and with the frequency of driver/operater change, it's almost the only way to go.

    If you ask me, find what works for your department, and doesn't damage your equipment. Don't be afraid to try new things. Good luck, and be safe.

  11. #11
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    You should get into the habit of setting the relief valve on every fire. If you are flowing more then one line you should always use it. No MPO is fast enough to reduce the pressure when a line is shut down so the other line doesn't feel it.

    If your rig has an automatic throttle then it doesn't have a separate relief valve.

    I work for two departments one has Hale pumps and the relief valve is set high then taken down to where it is needed. The other department has Waterous pumps and the relief valve is preset at 150 then adjusted as needed. I realy haven't seen a maintenence problem with either. I did see a guy having a problem trying to increase pressure turn off the relief valve, tearing the line from the crews hands.

    My vote is high.

  12. #12
    Forum Member DC8BALL's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    IN OUR DEPARTMENT, DCFD, OUR RELIEF VALVES ARE PRESET A 150psi AND IS ADJUSTED WHEN NEEDED. IT IS ALWAYS A GOOD PRACTICE TO OPERATE THE RELIEF VALVES WHETHER THEY ARE AUTOMATIC OR MANUAL DAILY, WHETHER YOU ARE A REGULAR TECHNICIAN OR FILL-IN. GET INTO THE HABIT OF PLACING THE RIG IN PUMP AND OPERATING ALL THE VALVES DAILY, THIS WAY EVERYTHING GETS WORKED AND THE PUMPS STAY PROPERLY PRIMED.

    BE SAFE... AND STAY LOW!!

  13. #13
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    First of all, I would like to thank everyone that replied.

    The reason I first posted this was to get an idea of how many departments do preset their "pilot valves".

    Now, first of all, I work for a Paid department that doesn't run too many calls. At least actual fire responses, so I was concerned as to why we were having to replace the pilot valve, or have it serviced about every two years.

    I witnessed several "engineers" run the throttle up to 150 psi, and then back it off, never "exercising" the relief valve at all. We damaged a couple pilot vales over a two year time frame. We actually did strip out the threads on the adjuster nut, on one of these occasions.

    My thought was that not only is this possibly damaging to the pilot valve, but also a safety concern if another operator covering the position didn't know that the pilot valve was set at 250 plus psi. I agree that an operator should know how to compensate for problems, but I don't think anyone is that quick. I was taught that the relief valve should operate somewhere around 10-15 psi above the highest setting. Now, again, my department doesn't run that many actual fire responses, so I was initially trying to get some feed back to present to my Company Officer, so it could be re-taught to all the Operators.

    We do have a scheduled time that the "exercising" occurs (every Saturday). But unfortunetly, I have operators that think that because our call volume is low, we don't need to worry about this operation.

    Thank you again for replying

  14. #14
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    Smile

    This subject has been discussed a length in our department. Some of the engineers(driver/operators) in our department feel that the relief valve "is the death of the engineer". I feel that it more of safety issue for the team at the end of the line. DC8Ball hits really close to home for me. With our department, the engineer is required to start and check his unit everyday. Exercising the relief valve and operating the pump and all it's levers is part of the morning check out sheet. We have no set pressure to operate the valve at, each engineer works that out for him/herself. I like mine set around 150 psi. This give you plenty of pressure for most pre-set pressures on your handlines, deck gun, etc., and only requires a few quick turns to get your 200 or 225 psi. By exercising the valve each morning we have not had to fix or replace any that I know of and we have quite a few older units. Your station officer would be the one that needs to handle the issue w/the engineers not properly checking their units. Hope some of this helps you out, keep up the good fight, change doesn't come easy on the job!
    Stay Safe

  15. #15
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    I run on two departments. One I am full time, the other volunteer. On the full time department we preset the relief valve to 150 psi. Of course the trucks get checked and ran with everything operated every Saturday. On the vollie department, the valves are set at their lowest setting, and it is the operators responsibility to set the relief valve. On the vollie department, the valves don't usually get operated very often, that's why. I don't like the idea of pre-setting them really high because you then can allow a 2 1/2" line to get charged that high. They move around quite a bit when someone is on the nozzle, no matter how big and strong they are. When you set them low, it makes operator actually make a concious effort to set the valve. I personally dislike running a pump over 225 psi anyway for most situations. As a side note, we run only Hale pumps. You can only adjust them up and down, not turn them on and off, as in a Waterous.

  16. #16
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    I was trained to set the relief valve even with just one line off. This is because our hydrant pressure is so great, about 90-100 psi. If the guy isn't ready on the nozzle and you get the hydrant he could get an extra 100 psi on his nozzle. Our truck has a mid-mount pump panel so you can't throttle down and open the gate at the same time.

  17. #17
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    I think the valve should always be set for the high end and if equipped with an on/off switch it should be in the off position. Each time the pump is used when water is flowing the switch should be placed on and the valve cranked down (counter clockwise) until the amber light goes on. Then crank slowly clockwise until the green light comes on. The relief valve is now set for slightly higher than your pump pressure.

    DC Kelly

  18. #18
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    IN MY DEPT THERE IS NO SOPS ON RELIEF VALVE OPERATIONS IT IS LEFT UP TO THE DRIVER THAT DAY AS TO IF HE WANTS TO USE IT OR NOT. I USE IT EVERY TIME I PUMP. MY OPINION IS IF YOU DONT USE IT YOULL LOSE IT AT LEAST EXERCISE IT EVERY DAY AND IF YOUR PUMPS HAVE A TRANSFER VALVE MOVE IT TOO. IVE SEEN TWO MANY APPARATUS WITH RELIEF VALVE OR TRANSFER VALVE PROBLEMS THAT ARE CAUSED FROM NON USAGE.

  19. #19
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    Cool

    In my morning check. I set the pressure to 130 psi. I do this because our 1 3/4 cross lays are operated at 120 psi. It is our most demanding line at our fires. If not inservice and flowing a bigger hoseline 2 1/2, deck gun, etc. I would set my relief valve 10 psi above operating pressue of that hoseline.

    Also you cannot reley on your relief valve for incoming supply pressure.

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