Thread: Vacuum tankers

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    Default Vacuum tankers

    Our department is starting the process of purchasing a new tanker, and I was hoping to get some thoughts from departments who use vacuum tankers.
    Last edited by KEN7606; 01-25-2004 at 06:39 AM.

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    Default Vacuum Tankers

    Firstly let me say I do sell vacuum tankers, so you can stop here if you prefer.

    There are 2 major manufactures of Vacuum tankers Southern Fire Equipment and Firovac. Firovac was the first big player in the vacuum tank market, they use a steel tank and an indirect drive vacuum pump. Firovac has a few more body styles than Southern Fire. Southern Fire Eqpt. is a fairly new player on the market they use a tank by progressive tank. Progressive makes tanks for many various applications. Southern Fire also uses a direct drive vacuum pump. They both work on obviously the same principle. The nice thing is that you do not need a engine at the fill sight. If you have conventional tankers in the rotation that engine can fill a portable pond for the vac tank to fill from while it is waiting to fill other tankers on the way back. You can fill from longer distances and from higher heights. If you are comapiring units compare them by tank size and at the same fill sight using the same size hard suction. Make sure your chassis is rated for the water you want to carry and the equipment that you want as well.

    Well I hope I have shed some light on the subject without being biased.

    "Don't spend 3 hours on a 30 minute incident just because you like playing firefighter"... Benjamin Franklin - 1736 (Plagerized from signal99)
    Fyrtrks

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    Thumbs down

    A department in an adjoining county has one. Its times for filling and dumping are not any quicker than a conventional tanker. I guess if you are always filling from a static source (ie. pond, stream or whatever) they are good because you don't need an engine at the fill site. If everyone around has conventionals and need an engine at the fill site then you now need to set a pond or make room for your tanker to fill. Wastes space if you don't have a lot of room at the fill site. Like I said earlier, fill and dump times aren't any better. Been there, timed 'em.
    Captain/EMT-P

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    Default I'm Glad we don't have them in the City aren't you?

    Rescue 21D is correct if you set up a portable tank at the fill site it will take up more room and if you don't have extra room then that is a problem, it is just a suggestion if you only have one fill site. You can fill the vacuum tanker at another site dedicated to the vac tank and it will be the fastest truck in the rotation. You can pre charge the tank with vacuum or pressure for dumping or filling. The vacuum tankers at least the ones I have seen dump faster than conventional and more completly because of the positive pressure, as opposed to the dribble that you get from a conventional towards the end of the dump time. Vacuum tankers can do things conventional tankers can't 1.They can switch between pressure dump and gravity dump allowing the tanker to quickly fill or to "top off" the folding pond. 2 They can pressure nurse or gravity nurse to another unit like on a highway or a call that does not need a folding pond.

    The vacuum tanker does take getting used to but it can be a good adition to your dept.

    The thing to do is to have a head to head demo, yes you will get the salesmans pitch but then you can see for yourself which is better. It maybe that vacuum is not the way for you to go but you and your department need to decide that.

    Once again I hope I was not biased towards one manufacturer or another.
    Fyrtrks

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    You can fill from longer distances and from higher heights.

    The rules of physics still apply.

    Don't see how you'd have any appreciable changes in the distance or height of draft. Height, in particular, is a pretty hard & fast fact and is essentially equal among well maintained equipment. Length will be dependent on flow among other factors.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    Dalmatian90,

    You are correct the physics laws do still apply. What I meant by longer distances was that a vacuum tanker can get a water from a source with out being right next to it. I would like to see a conventional engine draft 88 to 108 feet. I am not saying it can't be done just have never seen it. Here are a couple of websites that demonstrate what I am talking about regarding the distance.

    http://www.firovac.com/stories.htm

    http://www.southern-fire.com/long.suction.hose.html


    Now as far as for higher heights yes it is possible there is an inline device that introduces more air into the suction hose allowing you to "draft" from a higher height. It does slow the fill rate but still does fill. In a conventional engine, air is the enemy of a centrifugal pump, with the vacuum tanker it does not bother it.

    Thank You for keeping me honest.
    Last edited by Fyrtrks; 01-26-2004 at 08:31 PM.
    Fyrtrks

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    We recently took delivery of a Southern Fire vac tanker affectionately known as the "Suck Truck." All jokes aside, I do like it in operation (I got the first run, too ). It may not work well for you, but it works well for us.

    My (minor) complaints about the Southern Fire rig:

    The controls are simple, but not well laid out on our panel. Additionally, the switches/labels are not backlit meaning the cab light MUST be on to operate them.

    The rig was definitely not designed to be hand washed. There are nooks and crannies and thingamajigs all over it that make it a real pain to wash (hand wash and chamois after every outing in my department, weatehr permitting).

    These faults aside, I sure wouldn't trade it for our old 2500 gallon LODD-maker POS!
    ullrichk
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    I would like to see a conventional engine draft 88 to 108 feet.
    I have to contact some people to refresh my memory, since I was only told the story by someone there. (Was about 3 when it happened.) In the late 70s during the Johnstown floods in PA, a draft was set up to empty the floodwaters from the Lehigh University pool. Horizontal distance was somewhere over 200', but draft they did, for many hours.

    Any truck can draft any horizontal distance, it's just going to take longer to evacuate the air from the suction hose, and of course any air leaks in the suction hose are going to elongate the process, but eventually it will catch. From those that I talked to that have vac tankers, they create the draft a whole lot quicker than conventional, but won't necessarily give you a longer distance over a regular primer.

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    Fyrtrks,

    Thank you for your input. I find it interesting that the only negative commits I here about vacuum tankers come from departments who do not have them, and I was hoping to get more commits from vacuum users. The biggest concern is fitting in with departments that do not have vacuum tankers. One question that came up is can a valve be placed in the system that is triggered by the PTO switch that opens and closes a valve that would allow for the tanker to operate as a traditional tanker when the PTO is not engaged. Yes it seems like a bazaar request however we have seen one vacuum tanker damaged filling from a hydrant when the operator “forgot to open a valve”

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    Our tanker can be filled and dumped conventionally.
    ullrichk
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    KEN7606:

    Yes it can happen that a Vac Tanker can get to a higher pressure, however there should be a safety relief valve. My manufacturer will only allow the tank to reach 15 PSI before the relief valve opens. You do have to use a little comon sense, for instance when dumping, it is best to dump on the corner of the pond because we are talking about 1000+ GPM it can do interesting things to a porta pond frame. Our line has the capability to dump and fill like a conventional tanker.

    I am sure you can specify how you want your switches and lighting to be to make it easier to operate.
    Fyrtrks

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    Thumbs up BOTTOM LINE: THEY WORK

    I am a member of the Morrisvale VFD in West Virginia. We currently own 2-2000 gallon Firovac tankers. We are a small community who faces two major problems, no fire hydrants and lack of manpower. The Firovac tankers have helped ease this problem. We now have water available to us that was previously unavailable by conventional means. In our area we can do vertical lifts of 27' and are limited only by the hose that we carry on a horizontal hose lay. I have personally filled 2000 gallons of water through 132' of 6" hard suction in about 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Filling from a portable tank we can fill in the one minute range. Now to those who say that A vac truck will not fit into a conventional shuttle. It will not only fit, it will enhance it. It is a rule of thumb that a fill site pumper will only operate at about 80% of his pump capacity during filling operations. By setting a drop tank and using the pumper to fill it, Firovac can utilize that other 20%. But 9 times out of 10 a firovac tanker will find water closer to the fire scene than the fill site and many times haul 3or4 to 1 loads of water versus a conventional. The other point is that it can operate as a conventional tanker, but this severely cuts its efficiency. A conventional tanker will normally be good for 100gpm in a simulated 2 mile ISO tanker shuttle. A 2000 gallon firovac will be good for at least 210 gpm in the same shuttle (proven at the Ohio fire academy). Now to the manpower point. Most volunteer FD's are facing limited staffing. Our typical response on a structure fire may be 10 people. now before purchasing the vac tankers we had to have one fill site pumper (1 driver), 3 persons to set up the portable pumps,fold-a-tanks etc, 2 persons to connect the fill hoses, 2 drivers for our conventional tankers. This came to a total of 8 out of 10 people to set up a proper tanker shuttle. That left 2 to fight the fire. Of course we didn't do this,we commited ou members to fighting the fire and we depended on our mutual aid to set up our fill site but this was generally time consuming. Now with the firovac we can commit a driver for the tankers and a gmember or bystander to connect the hoses. A total of thre people and we will deliver more water with our 2 vac tankers than what a conventional shuttle using 4 tankers will do. This allows you to use your water at upon arrival, because we only have one chance to make a successful stop and thats in the first 10 minutes after arrival. Just remember to do your homework when looking at Vac trucks, realize that they are not all created equal and that they are the wave of the future in rural water movement.

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    Just a bump for Sklump
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    Default Explain design/op

    Pump - Typically PTO powered? Roots type blower/air pump or ???

    Operation - I assume the vacumn/air pump pulls a vacumn in the water tank (and "suction" hose)?

    When dumping is this gravity dump as normal tanker? or Valves are opened/closed so that tank is pressurized?

    What is the largest tank our there?

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    BTT for more info as we are considering the purchase of a Vacuum Tanker.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
    Instructor

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    Thumbs up

    We have 18 firovac in our county ,a 2000 and a 3500 Firovac and a 1750 conv tanker on our dept .Our 2 alarm brings 4or5 vac and 2 conv with a 1250 pond pumper . They all work good together. I would say the best thing is not waiting on a pond pumper to fill the tankers . And manpower . Our vac trucks can have dumped 1 or 2 loads before the pond pumpers get to the dry hyd then they set up a tank for us . We just lowered our ISO in our township from a 9 to a 6 .Both in use of vac tankers and working with the dept that have conv tankers.

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