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  1. #1
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Default Electronic Engine Controls

    I know this has ben batted around before, but something new has come up. This morning we had a fire, and its the first time (other then training) that I had to pump multiple lines useing an electronic engine controler. What a pain in the A**.

    I had 3 1 3/4' lines off, one 200', one 150' & one 100'. Two lines had TFT nozzles and the other a smoothbore (3/8 tip). I had a hell of a time keeping the proper pressures on each line, and every time one line would shut down the RPM would bounce up and down which affected the pressure in the lines. Supply wasnt an issue, I was hooked to a good hydrant with 100' of 5" LDH. My intake never dropped below 50psi.

    Has anyone else had this problem, or does it sound like we may have a problem with the controler? In training, Ive had 2 lines off and never had a problem. Of course, real life in diferent, but Im concerned.

    Any ideas???
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

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    In reply to your post i have a couple of questions. First what type of controller are you using, what type of fire pump and engine do you have? Were you in pressure mode or rpm mode?

    I have experienced difficulties pumping in rpm mode as the engine will raise and lower as needed to maintain the rpms needed for the the setting. If you pump in pressure mode and for a number pump at 150 psi master discharge pressure, the engine will raise and lower as needed to maintain the 150 setting you selected. so if you are flowing 3 lines and one closes down the engine should lower to maintain the pump discharge pressure.

    if you were to loose your incoming water the engine will raise rpms until it tops out and then will go to idle. if you have never experienced this senerio it is spooky. remember that the pump is sending a signal from the discharge side of the pump to the engine to maintain rpms for set pressure.

    if you continue to have issues with this i would check the connections on the pressure sending unit on the pump and if that does not help contact the truck and or pressure gov mfg. they should be able to assist you in operation of these controls in various situations.

    email me at firetruckfixer2003@yahoo.com if you have further questions. Please if there are any engineers that can add or correct any thing i posted do so.

    jeff

  3. #3
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Default

    Its a Pierce controler, not sure who makes it. Its on a 1250 Waterous with a Cummins 375hp engine.

    I was in pressure, and I had it set at 170 for the 200' line and had the others gated down.

    My concern is while it adjusted rpm to compensate for changes, it affected the discharge pressure and I dont think it should have. I thought thats what the controler was supposed to prevent. In training it has, at least with two lines flowing.

    I know we had a problem with it a couple months ago when switching from tank to hydrant, the rpm was jumping WAY up then resetting to idle (like you mentioned) when we switched to hydrant. After some digging, we traced the problem to the pump to tank valve and not the controler. But now Im concerned this problem is the controler.

    I hate this damn thing. Give me a manual throttle and an old style relife valve
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

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  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber sdff1520's Avatar
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    Default

    We have an electronic engine controller on our structural engine...took a little getting used to, but it actually works very well. When lines are shut down or opened up, the truck should alter RPM to compensate...this is normal behavior. If someone shuts down a 2 1/2 line flowing several hundred GPM the engine RPMs should drop as the pump no longer needs to supply that much capacity...although the master discharge pressure should stay where set. The symptom you described of the truck revving way up and then shutting down sounds familiar also. Happens on our when for example....someone tries to pump to much capacity out of the booster tank....pump begins to cavitate, discharge pressure drops, engine controller pushes the RPM up to compensate until it figures out its unrecoverable and shuts down...(happens everytime someone forgets they cant run the deck gun @ 1500 gpm off the booster tank) The other time this happens is when we are drafting or transitioning from booster to draft...the valve to the steamer intake gets opened to quickly while pumping from the booster or second drop tank has been set up and that valve is opened to quickly allowing air in the pump...looses prime...discharge pressure drops, engine controller again compensates to the point of no return. A bit un-nerving at first, but as people get used to the system it will happen less and less.

    No matter what, if you are running multiple lines @ different pressures and gating some of them back, when lines are shut down or opened up...its going to take some tweaking on the pump operators part to readjust the partially throttled discharge valves...this is true regardless of electronic control or not.
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

  5. #5
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Default

    No matter what, if you are running multiple lines @ different pressures and gating some of them back, when lines are shut down or opened up...its going to take some tweaking on the pump operators part to readjust the partially throttled discharge valves...this is true regardless of electronic control or not.
    Right...but Ive never experianced 40-50 psi changes like I did the other night.
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

    IAAI-NFPA-IAFC/VCOS-Retired IAFF

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  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber sdff1520's Avatar
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    Ours has never altered that significantly, and has always been pretty quick to compensate to flow changes. It would probably be worth mentioning to your apparatus vendor/builder and see what words of wisdom they might have.
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

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    If you can find out what type of controller,ie class one, fire research you have i have troubleshooting manuals for each. it wont have a fire commander i dont believe as that is tied to a detroit engine. let me know what you find out jeff

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    Lightbulb Try this

    You can always go to the "manual" mode and operate the pump the same as a hand throttle only you use the push buttons. Works good for relay pumping or when drafting from a porta tank and pumping into another engine.

    Stay safe,

    Pete
    Pete Sinclair
    Hartford, MI
    IACOJ (Retired Division)

  9. #9
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks for all the ideas. After talking to some others, I think it may have been the lines that were used.

    I had the pump set at 180 for the 200' line with the TFT nozzle. This line was exterior, and wasnt used much. The main attack line, and the one that was used the most, was the 150' with the 3/8 solid tip that I had gated down to 110psi.

    What Ive been told now, is the controler is having trouble compensating for the 70 psi difference between the 2 lines, and is normal.

    Does this sound correct???
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    Success is when skill meets opportunity
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  10. #10
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    Smile Yes

    Yes, it sounds correct but that's a lot of pressure for a straight tip unless it is a long lay.

    Again, when in doubt do the following and I hope you don't have a top mount.

    Place controler in manual and operate with right hand.

    Place left leg against intake line from hydrant to make sure it stays hard.

    Use left hand to "squeez" preconnects so that you know pressure is right.

    I know, not high tech but it will work in a pinch.

    Stay safe,

    Pete
    Pete Sinclair
    Hartford, MI
    IACOJ (Retired Division)

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber sdff1520's Avatar
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    Default

    No, it doesn't sound normal to me. Pressure governor doesn't know anything about individual discharges, all it knows or cares about is master discharge pressure. It will do everything it can raising and lowering engine and therefore pump RPM to keep the master discharge pressure at whatever setting you have selected. It doesn't care or have any way of knowing that you have 1, 2, 3, or 10 lines flowing or what pressures you have them at by partially opening discharge valves. Normal behavior is for the engine RPM to vary any time someone shuts off or charges a line, just to compensate for the increasse or decrease in flow and therefore pressure. This compensation should be quick and immediate. I've never seen our governor allow very much of a drop or increase in pressure, its fairly quick to react.
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

  12. #12
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Default

    Yes, it sounds correct but that's a lot of pressure for a straight tip unless it is a long lay.
    7/8 tip @ 50 psi nozzle pressure gives you 159 gpm. FL for 150' of 1 3/4" at 159 gpm is 59psi. Add the nozzle and your engine pressure should be 109psi (round up to 110)

    Place controler in manual and operate with right hand.
    I always pump in manual and hey, how did you know I was a righty

    Place left leg against intake line from hydrant to make sure it stays hard.
    I would, but my legs arent that long, the intake is on the other side

    Use left hand to "squeez" preconnects so that you know pressure is right.
    Never heard that one. Ill have to give it a try

    I've never seen our governor allow very much of a drop or increase in pressure, its fairly quick to react.
    I think that may be where we have a problem. I could understand a 10-15 psi change, but plus 30 is, I think, a bit much.

    Thanks for all the help...I think what we are going to do is take the rig out some time next week and flow some water with it and see what we can find. I talked again with the interior crew and they said everything was fine on there end of the line, and thats whats important
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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  13. #13
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    It sounds like your governor is in fact not working properly. I have operated pumpers for numerous years with electronic governors (FRC, Class 1, Detroit Fire Commander) and have found them to be highly accurate when working properly. It is true, the governor doesn't know that you have lines gated at different pressures, and it doesn't matter. The governor will increase and decrease RPM's based on the input it gets from the pressure transducer on the discharge manifold of the pump body, and thereby keep the discharge pressure fairly constant.

    I don't agree with some of the posts suggesting operating in "manual" (RPM mode) when pumping handlines. The reason the pressure setting is on the governor is to protect the nozzle crews from the increases and decreases associated with shutting down and opening up nozzles. The newer electronic engines respond very quickly to changes fed to them by the governors. Remember, NFPA requires the pressure control device, and most purchasers today buy NFPA compliant apparatus for a reason. If operators are circumventing the safety feature provided by the governor, they are in a sense setting up fellow crew members for potential injury from over or under pressurized lines. This opens up the liability issue for the department as well in the event of injury, or worse.

    Best bet is to learn and fully understand the operation of this device, and if its not performing properly, get it repaired. It is difficult at best to "manually" react to constant changes in pressure encountered during multiple handline operations, that's why we have relief valves and pressure governors in the first place.

    Just my opinions......

  14. #14
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    I don't agree with some of the posts suggesting operating in "manual" (RPM mode) when pumping handlines.
    I guess I should have specified, I pump in manual pressure mode, not RPM.

    We are going to test it, and I will let you know what we find so if any of you develope the same problem you will have an idea what to look for
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    Dave,

    Now I'm REALLY confused!

    What exactly is "manual pressure mode" ??

    My understanding of the operation is that once in "pressure" mode on any of the governors, it becomes automatic in the sense that the pressure transducer/governor electronics/engine ECM become one to adjust the RPM's up and down to maintain the pressure set either by the "preset" function, or by the last pressure chosen by the up/down arrow buttons.

    My department operates its governors (FRC Governor PRO) at 150 psi for initial attack via the "preset" button (TFT Dual Force nozzles on 1-3/4" and 2" preconnects, set on "low" pressure)and when the nozzle crew wants more water, we increase by 25 psi increments. The governor takes care of the rest, and we see very little pressure variance, even though you can hear the engine change RPM in response to nozzles opening/closing. Of course, when we use the 2-1/2" preconnects, we typically will gate them back if the hose line is being advanced (interior work) or just pump at whatever pressure we are operating at (for exterior, stationary operation). These lines have automatics as well.

    All things being considered, we would never go back to a throttle/relief valve setup. Even the senior pump operators have gotten used to the governors, and like them very well (they can compare, as they were brought up on relief valves).

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    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Now I'm REALLY confused!
    Cool, that make two fo us

    Our controler has two manual adjustments and two presets (two each pressure and RPM). We only pump in pressure mode. The pressure mode preset is 150psi. Non of our handlines are pumped @ 150psi, so we only use the preset for standpipe operations.
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
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    Success is when skill meets opportunity
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    If your control is a Fire Research brand, its a piece of cake to change those presets to whatever value you want... I have the manual and can give you the instructions or send you a copy of the manual if you'd like to make those presets work for your handlines...
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

  18. #18
    Forum Member Dave1983's Avatar
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    Originally posted by sdff1520
    If your control is a Fire Research brand, its a piece of cake to change those presets to whatever value you want... I have the manual and can give you the instructions or send you a copy of the manual if you'd like to make those presets work for your handlines...
    Thanks for the offer, but no one other then our operations chief and mechanic are permitted to change the settings.
    Fire Marshal/Safety Officer

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    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government"
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    No problem, If you ever want the info just give me a shout.
    Rick Gustad - Chief
    Platte Volunteer Fire Department
    www.plattevfd.com

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    I'm a little confused...

    When you are determining your pump pressure, are you going off of the master discharge pressure gauge when you set the PSI with the governor? I.e, if you have a 100psi line, a 120psi line, a 170psi line, and a 150psi line, the governor is set for 170 off the master discharge gauge, and the others are gated back to achieve the desired pressures.

    If any of the lines are shut down, the corresponding drop in RPM's from the governor will keep any remaining lines at their respective pressure.

    That's how it's supposed to work, at least. If it isn't, there's gottta be a problem with the sensor (we've had 2 go bad) or the electronic governor itself.
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