1. #1
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    Default Why two pumpers?

    I have a question I hope someone can help me with. Before I ask the question let me give you all a little background about our dept. We cover approx 35 square miles out of one station, pop approx 2200 permanant residents, estimated at 4000 around holidays and summer. Our apparatus consists of two (2) pumpers 1000 gal tanks on both, one tanker 1600 gallons, brush truck and rescue. Neither of our pumpers have dump valves, the tanker does. My department is considering adding on to our existing station and preliminary prices are around $50,000, (that is a very rough estimate). Our department is funded by a mill tax on property, which was raised two years ago by voters for the fire depts to improve the services offered. We currently take in approx $42,000 annually from this tax. The tax was passed by voters with the understanding that fire departments would build "sub-stations" to help with response time and lower ISO ratings, along with this comes additional income, the additional income being the same amount as you get for your "main" station. ( I know it doesn't make much sense, politics). Anyway, in order to build a substation you have to have a pumper and a tanker. So I am trying to tell everyone that instead of adding to our station this year, we should install a dump valve on one of our pumpers, build our substation, and the members will be happy and at the same time we will be able to lower our ISO rating, in the future, and better service our citizens. Then we can add on to our existing station next year with the additional income. They tell me we can not do that because we have to have two pumpers at our current station. Why? They can not tell me why, they just say that is the way it is but at the same time can not direct me who to ask. So my question to you guys and gals is, are any of you familiar with the "two pumper rule" at one station? Any input would be greatly appreciated. I know this is lengthy and I probably left something important out, if so let me know. And if you don't know my answer do you know anyone who might? Thanks very much!

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    Don't know of any "two pumper rule", but my question is why would you want to pump a dump valve on an engine? With 1000 gallons in the tank, why not simply use the pump to move the water? Are you suggesting, you dump the 1000gals from the tank via the dump valve into a pond, then draft it back into the same pumper? Not sure what you are getting at.
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    Sorry I did not clarify that, my intention was to install the dump valve on one of the pumpers so it would classify as a pumper/tanker, so then we would meet the requirements for sub-station apparatus. Those requirements are you have to have a pumper and tanker, I am not positive that a pumper/tanker combo will qualify, but I thought it was worth checking into. They have just totally thrown the idea out because they say we have to have two pumpers at our existing station. I am just trying to figure out whether I need to pursue my idea, figure out why they are saying that and save us some money, or just let them spend the money the way they want to. Thanks for your response.

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    Pumper/tanker would not qualify. If your using the truck to pump, it can't function as a tanker. If it's functioning as a tanker, that leaves no pumper. Keep your ideas going, just because it hasn't been done before doesn't mean it's wrong. Good Luck.
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    Thanks Bones, I am going to dig a little deeper into all the political "stuff" and see what I can come up with, thanks for your input.

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    is your station in a village or town and does it have separate iso ratings for town /rural areas
    if your main area is a town or such , iso will require a pumper to be available at all times to that area even while you are responding to an outlying area -maybe that is the 2 pumper "rule " they are refering to

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    Our coverage is all rural, we do not cover any incorporated areas. There are a few portions of our coverage that are more than 5 miles from our station, but it is very few and mostly in one area along Lake Mitchell. Could this be the reason for requiring two pumpers, and if so how much would we be penalized if we only had one pumper in our existing station. Our ISO is a straight 8. MJ what you said makes since about requiring a pumper to remain in the area, but the way we are set up the second station would cover the existing stations coverage also. I know there are so many "ifs" and probably a lot more information you guys need, but I really appreciate the replies. Learning something already. Thanks!!

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    Is the requirement to place a pumper and a tanker in the substation based on the funding legislation? I ask because I'm pretty sure ISO just requires a Class-A pumper for a station to be counted.

    If it is a requirement of the funding legislation, you may can meet it with one vehicle but Bones is absolutely right about the limitations that will place on you from an operational standpoint. If that engine is used as the attack piece, you don't have it for use as a tanker.

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    The question about the requirement is what I can not find out. I have searched the Alabama Legislation website, I have tried to contact our local representative, (they are in session), and I have made calls to the county firefighter association president, and noone is home today. That is what I was thinking, about being able to get by with one truck, but I have to be sure before I can present all this to my department, since they have already said no once. I just want to get my facts straight and was asking these questions to make sure I was not missing something. I understand the operational limitations. On most, not every, fires we only utilize one of our pumpers, 1000 gal tank, and our other pumper is used to relay or shuttle along with the tanker and mutual aid apparatus. I understand it would limit it if it was needed, I just think the pros outweigh the cons here if we can get it to happen. I would like to explain the entire situation but it would take entirely too long, I am trying to give you guys just enough info to give some input.

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    First ..........there is no "two-pumper" rule.......I am not sure if 1000 gals of water would make it a tanker, I thought the minimum was 1500 ? My department doesnt have to use tankers. I wish you good luck in trying to get us good information to help you and it refreshing to actually try use these forums for what they were intended for.
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    Bones, the vehicle would not be performing simultanious roles at a given incident. Also, if you are dumping the tank you are not pumping it out the dump valve. It's gravity feed, totally indepandant of the pump. I don't know how feasible it is to do this with a 1000 gal booster but we did it several years ago with what was an engine with a 2000 booster tank.

    Before the dump valve was installed we pumped the tank into the portable pond when it operated as a tanker. With the dump valve we can dump the tank considerably quicker than pumping it. When you need to realy on tanker ops to maintain a steady flow with mulitple master streams operating, every bit of time saved is helpful.

    Going back to the original post, I do not know of any two pumper rule.

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    SFDchief, thanks for the info, I will admit, my PortaTank/Tanker knowledge is from talking to people and reading about them, we are blessed with hydrants and haven't yet had the need to actually see a tanker in operation.

    We have a 5" discharge on each of our trucks, and I would assume it would empty the tank fairly quick, but not as quick as a dump valve. My thought though, is if it's only 1000gals, is it going to be the tanker you use for the master stream operation? That would give you 2 minutes at most, if even that. It may be possible, but I am doubting they use these tankers as relay tankers simply due to their limited size. I would think they would use up the water in the pond before the truck could return.

    Again, thanks for the information, someday I'll get out and see one of these things in action so I can truly appreciate it.
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    No problem Bones.

    We too have 5" discharges on all our pumpers, pumper/tankers. Not only is dumping into a porta pond quicker (if the tank is vented right) but the alternative is a nurse feed operation.

    In a nurse feed op, you have to take the time to connect and disconnect the tankers as they come and go. The only reserve supply is what's in the relay pumper tanks and you're limited to the volume of water in the supply hose feeding the tanker to the pumper.

    In a portable pond operation we use a minimum of 1 3000 gal porta pond. Our straight tanker is 3000 gals. The tanker arrives, sets up the pond and dumps his load of water. With most tankers these days this is effortless. You back up to the pond or pull along side (depending on the location of the dump valve) and flip the switch in the cab to open the dump. At the portable pond there is a pumper drafting out of the pond feeding either the attack engine or relay pumper using LDH.

    If needed and if space permits you can hook up two or more porta ponds together using hard suction and a siphon jet. Doing this you will double your "reserve" capacity and you can dump multiple tankers simulatniously. At that point the draft engine at the porta pond has a 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 to the siphon jet and transfers the water from one tank to the other.

    To become efficient in this type of operation takes some ochestration.
    Done effectively you can move alot of water with minimal water loss.

    At a recent drill, we were able to supply our ladder pipe with this type of set up. The water source was approx 2 miles away and utilizing 4 or 5 tankers we were able to flow approx 1250 gpm for extended periods of time with little problem. As with most fire operations, training and ochestration are important to be successful.

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    UHHH -I think were astraying off the beaten path
    here- atalking bout putting dump valves in pumper
    trucks. Couple of questions -how far away will the substation
    be alocated at? Effen its a mile and a half or less- it will count
    100% on your apparatus distribution. Ya might even get by with
    relocating one of your pumpers till you can afford another.
    ya got a lot of factors to add up-the only two pumper rule I
    know of is if your needed fire flow is say 1500 gpm - and your pumpers
    are 750s-- your agonna need to of em.
    dont be ascared to call up your ISO rater and ask him for advise.

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    The reason for the dump valve being installed on the pumper is solely for it to be classified as a pumper/tanker. Not sure about the distance for the sub-station, but we are looking at about 3.5 miles. One pumper is a 1000gpm pump and the other is a 1250gpm pump. All of our larger buildings would actually be located closer to the sub-station than the existing station. I really appreciate all the comments and suggestions, I have been trying to contact someone with ties to ISO, as soon as I talk to him and get some definite answers for our dept, I plan on giving a presentation to the dept including presenting all the research to every dept member. Wish me luck. Thanks again!!

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    You probably can't find the code at the state legislature web site. Unless your county has home rule (most in Alabama do not), then your tax program would have been created through a constitutional amendment combined with a local act. A local act is a bill passed by the state legislature that applies to a political subdivision (city or county) rather than the whole state. All 700+ of the constitutional amendments are on-line but the local acts don't appear to be available from the web site. They number in the hundreds each session, I guess that's why they do not post them. You can find the constitutional amendments at http://alisdb.legislature.state.al.u.../ACASLogin.asp . The amendment will give a general idea about the funding bill but you will need the entire local act for the exact details.

    If you can let me know what county you're from, I can get a copy of the local act and e-mail it to you.

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    I made contact with the county fire association President and he stated the only thing required to receive funding from the county was for ISO to recognize the dept as a class 9. He said that you had to have a pumper and a tanker to get that recognition?? Is that right, I thought all you had to have was a brush truck? I am aware of all the other required items, the heat and air, phone, etc... Anyway, so now I have to find out if ISO will allow us to have a station with one pumper (1250 pump, 1000 tank), tanker (1600 tank), brush truck, and rescue; and a sub-station with a pumper/tanker (1000 pump, 1000 tank), and keep our current ISO grade. If I can find out this information I will be able to present it to the dept and hopefully convince some people to see what I see. The sub-station will hopefully be located about 3.5 miles from our existing station in a highly residential area with 90% of our hydrants. This will also put 80-90% of our coverage within 3 miles of a station, I'm not sure if that matters though. After all this comes the hardest part, finding some land to put a station on. Just a note, we also have a "reserve" pumper that we were going to try to sell, so if we are still required to have two pumpers at our existing station then we could put that one back in service it is a 1000 pump, 500 tank. So now I guess all I really have to do is see if ISO will allow us to keep the same rating with a pumper/tanker at a sub-station. Do you guys see any reason this would not work, or am I just totally missing something here? Thanks for the info, oh and by the way EFD840, we are in Chilton County. Thanks again guys!

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    Sorry for the delay, I was at the fire college in Tuscaloosa this weekend and just got back to FH.com today.

    I did some research and it looks like you guys have had a propery tax based funding system for quite some time. It started in 1982 with constitutional amendment 402, which approved a 2.5 mill rate. While I was looking, I found what looks like attempt to increase the rate to 4 mills that was defeated in 2000. It was legislative act 2000-370. You can see both the original amendment and act 2000-370 by going to the Secretary of State's website. It has links to both the Constitution and the Acts of Alabama. I also noticed that amendment 402 was to expire after 20 years unless continued by the voters. I assume that a vote to continue the original amendment is the election you referred to in your first post. Since the rate hasn't changed in a long time, if you're getting more money then the county has probably reassessed property values.

    Now back to the other question. I'm not an ISO expert, but I am very sure they do not have any requirement that a station contain a tanker. There is a rural department here in Elmore county that doesn't even own a tanker. They protect several lakeside developments and are blessed with 100% hydrant protection so tankers would be a waste of money (when is the last time you saw a tanker in a Montgomery or Birmingham station).

    ISO does care a great deal about your station locations (need to be within 5 miles of the areas they serve), your ability to meet your area's needed fire flow, and your ability to sustain your water supply along with a host of communications, training, and equipment issues. Station locations can be very important if you have to deal with any weight restricted bridges. If all your coverage area is within 5 road miles of your station, I don't think an additional station will help or hurt their insurance rates.

    Here's a question. Why do you think you need the substation in this area? If you're operating on an annual budget in the $50k region, then the cost of a substation (particularly if you will be forced to purchase the land) is going to eat a great deal of your income for several years to come.

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    You are correct about the property mill tax. The tax was voted on and passed in 2000, it was raised from the 2.5 mills to 4 mills. The 2.5 mill tax was to expire in 2002, you are correct about that, and let me tell you it got hairy because the amendment barely passed. With the higher mill rate and reassed property values in 2001 I think our income has increased. EFD840, with a sub-station we could provide quicker response time for our most populated area, also with a sub-station our tax income will double. So if we do have to make an investment in land we should get in back in the first year, hopefully we can get land at a good price. I spoke to someone about the ISO requirements and he gave me some very good information. Our ISO rating is based on a water shuttle, which is why our Chief was saying that we had to have two pumpers and a tanker at our existing station. So in order for us to keep our current ISO rating we need to maintain a pumper and a tanker at each station. We have the apparatus available to do this, we can make one of our 1000 gal tank pumpers into a tanker and pull our reserve pumper up to front line at the new station, which will provide for a pumper and a tanker at each station. Our current rating is not based on any reserve apparatus so pulling this pumper out of reserve is not going to hurt us. I see this as being a very positive move, we are decreasing our response time in the most populated area and it also has the most hydrants, also we will lower our ISO rating when we are graded again, and we will double our budget. I talked to our Chief and he seems to agree with me, we will see this next Monday night. The "building committee" is making a presentation this next Monday night on what to do so Chief told me to have a presentation together and we will let the department decide what to do. So this is going to be a busy week, but I think it will be well worth it, and if they decide to turn my offer down I can say I did all that I could do. I am not going to be upset if my offer is turned down so long as I can say that I gave it all I had. Thanks for your input EFD840.

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    also with a sub-station our tax income will double.
    You lost me on this one. Why is your tax income going to increase due to adding a sub-station? Aren't the taxes calculated based on property taxes? If the properties in the area are staying the same, then the collected tax would be the same. Having two stations would (to me) mean twice the expenses, not twice the income. Or does your area collect a tax based on how many fire companies? I'm confused.
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    The amendment that was passed allows us to collect the same amount of tax money for a sub-station as for a "central" station. That is how the amendment was written up by the county commission, I know it does not make much sense but that is how it is. It was proposed to the county commission by the firefighter association that the amount of funding for a substation be 1.5 the amount given to a central "station" but they did not like that and since they wanted to be in control that is the way it is. Say a fire department received $20,000 in funding, if we build a substation our income will increase to $40,000. What was proposed would have increased the funding by 10,000 totalling 30,000. Everytime another department builds a sub-station our overall budget decreases by $3000. I hope this clears it up for you Bones. I know there are a lot of politics involved in this aspect of this whole deal, I was hoping to keep the politics out of it on the forum but it is just impossible. We are just trying to make the best out of a situation and use it for what it was intended for, which was to create more fire coverage for the county. I am not meaning to be sarcastic toward you, I just could not figure out a way to word it any differently, hope I did not offend you.

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    Default Things are a little clearer now...

    You're welcome ECFD924. You've gotta look out for your neighbors.

    Bones, for a little background, Alabama doesn't have a statewide funding system for fire protection. The systems and amounts vary widely from county to county. Even though ECF's county adjoins mine at our northwest corner, until this thread I had no idea how they were funded. Likewise, the strategies for defining coverage areas differ greatly. We have districts that are very clearly delineated all the way down to a street address. The number of structures within our boundaries determine how our county funds are divided. Other counties have very loose (if any) boundaries and divide the money equally. I looked at the funding law for ECF's county and it divides the money evenly.

    I am going to guess that ECF's money is divided between each department based on the number of stations (or companies if you prefer), rather than the number of legal entities (departments) in the county. If that is the case, then the requirement to have two apparatus assigned to a station is a good way to keep departments from building single bay facilities at different physical locations in order to get a bigger chunk of the pie.

    How close am I ECF924?

    Just out of curiosity, do you have clearly defined departmental boundaries with mutual aid agreements that determine second due companies or do you operate in a somewhat consolidated fashion where county dispatch sends the nearest units?

    And one final question, do you think that response time will really improve? We've got a substation in our town's industrial park. Right now, it is unused because we don't have a pumper to put there (no we didn't build it with no way to equip it, one of the businesses in the park donated it) but when it goes in-service, the effect it will have on response time will depend on the time of the call. We've got a full engine company working in the park that can staff it during the day but at night it will be a slow responding unit because nobody lives nearby.

    Regardless of what you guys decide, it is great to see someone working to make their department better.

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    *****I am going to guess that ECF's money is divided between each department based on the number of stations (or companies if you prefer), rather than the number of legal entities (departments) in the county. If that is the case, then the requirement to have two apparatus assigned to a station is a good way to keep departments from building single bay facilities at different physical locations in order to get a bigger chunk of the pie.*****

    This is sort of correct, the money is divided equally between all stations in the county whether it be a sub-station or not. The firefighter association tried to get that changed as I mentioned earlier but they were unsuccessful, so no matter if you are a main station or a sub-station everyone gets the same amount of money, and you guessed it as more stations are built the money starts to dwindle per station.

    The requirement to have two apparatus is not required to recieve funding, according to the firefighter association all you have to do to receive funding is be recognized as a Class 9 by ISO. The reason my dept has to have a pumper and a tanker at each station is because our ISO rating is based on a water shuttle instead of hydrants, but hopefully that will change soon. So EFD if dept's wanted to they could just build a one bay station, put a brush truck in there and get ISO to recognize it as a class 9 and get the money, of course they are going to make people mad when they have to pay out the a** for insurance, but theoretically it could happen.

    We have designated boundaries with mutual and automatic aid agreements. The question on response time is gray. Yes I think it will improve but like you guys it depends on what time of day it is. We have several people who live within 2-3 miles of the proposed sub-station area ( I give approximations because we do not have land yet), and the proposed site will be closer to Clanton which is where a couple of guys work and can leave if need be, and it will be about three minutes from my house where the current station is 5-8 minutes depending on traffic, so I would say between me and the three other guys that would put a truck rolling out of that station within 3-5 minutes which is the average for our current station.

    We all know there are pros and cons to each side, as I said before the way I see it I see more positive effects by building a sub-station. After I make my presentation Monday night, I will let you guys know how it went.

    EFD, we are located in the east-central part of the county, with our western boundary being the city of Clanton, and our eastern boundary being Lake Mitchell.

    Once again thank all you guys for your comments and insight.

    Stay Safe!!

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    ECFD924 - So each station gets a share. Interesting setup. Thanks for the info.
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    Very interesting setup.

    Isn't anyone concerned about creating something akin to an arms race? If you build a new station, won't the other departments in the county feel the need to match you so that they don't lose funding?

    Going back to your original question. I'm almost positive ISO will not care if your pumpers and tankers are housed in different facilities so long as they're in close proximity (I think the magic number is 5 miles). When we open our new station, the folks nearby will probably sleep a little easier but they're still not going to get a lower insurance rate.

    Your act also seems to only apply to unincorporated areas of the county. Do the municipal departments only cover the city limits/police jurisdiction? I can understand it for Clanton but what about Thorsby, Maplesville, and Jemison? If they cover unincorporated areas do they get an equal share of the pie?

    We're a municipal department but we cover a large unincorporated area. Our money is based entirely on the number of structures in our area ($25 a residence and $50 for a business) so there isn't an outcry from the town's elected officials about us using town resources to protect areas outside the town limits.

    We're located dead in the center of Elmore county and may be the only department that doesn't have a river or large lake in its district. Our two mutual aid partners cover large parts of Lake Martin. You guys that cover lakes have my sympathy. It seems like every weekend they get dispatched to "cell caller from a boat reports a fire near so-and-so point. Don't have an exact location...".

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