1. #1
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    Question CAFS Maintenance

    Ahem...taps on mike...hi all, first post here, so go easy on me...

    We're in the process of spec'ing a new pumper for our rural VFD, and are strongly considering a CAFS system on it. One of the things we heard is that such a system has quite a bit of extra maintenance tied to it. Is this the case? What are any other arguments that can me made for/against a CAFS?

    We need to know all the facts (not just what the sales guy says) before pulling the trigger, so to speak. The chief has the final say, and he won't sign the check before being assured that it won't end up costing the department a lot of extra $$$ in the long run...

    Thanks for any replies.

    RRZ

  2. #2
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    Default

    We have had a Waterous/Pneumax system on a pumper tanker for about 5 years now with a second unit on order. Just like anything else there is regular maintenance required. We change all filters (Three total) and oil ( 5+ gallon) at least once a year 1-2 hours depending on where your body builder mounts all the stuff ours is pretty good with the new one even better.

    Ongoing issues

    We have had to replace two air check valves about every 8-10 months due to them sticking closed the checks are located in a position where they cant drain so the water lays on the check We have very hard water with lots of lime so they lime up and then get replaced- we are now trying a new style Durabila (sp?) check valve. With unknown results

    Other issue is our cooler Y strainers we do lots of drafting from the lake and suck up Zebra Muscles they tend to plug the cooler Y strainer easy to clean just have to do it.

    We also avoid problems with overheating when the strainer is plugged by requiring a Oil to Air cooler on the compressor oil loop be provided. The air to oil cooler also allows us to run the compressor with out running the pump for cooling.

    Dont know much about the other systems that are out there -

    Hope this helps

    SBLGFD

    www.sblgfd.com

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the info.

    Our department draws 99% of our water from a 300+gpm well at the fire hall, so we wouldn't pick up any critters. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being really soft and 10 being really hard, I'd say our water is about a 4, so those check valves might last longer in our situation.

    Given you're ordering another system, I'd wager you're happy with the overall function of the unit, right?

    RRZ

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    Default Roger

    What different brands are you looking at? For a volly dept it might be a bit overwhelming to introduce a CAFS system. There is alot of extra maintence and training to be done on it. They are great for full time fire department, but if you dont train and maintain it will be a pain. Huh, I kinda like that and it rhymes. What area of the world are you from? What dealers are in your area. Make sure whoever you buy from they can service your unit. Just my 2 cents.

  5. #5
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    Default CAFS good and bad

    CAFS has a lot of advantages, reduced water consumptions, lighter hose lines, better penetration. Now for the disadvantages. Freezing of lines happens much quicker with CAFS. The training to operate the equipment is also greater. Yes and there is more maintenance, oil changes on the compressor, another air filter, and a water seperator. My department has three CAFS engines that now have 5 years of service on them. We like you are a volunteer department in a rural setting with no full time maintenance facility. Our problems started with the design. The foam pump is under sized for the water pump output. The compressor engagement is also a problem We have been through four gear boxes as the shifting for the compressor drive eats the ends off of the gears. We have also frozen four heat exchangers for the compressor cooling. Three of these were frozen during the delivery of the truck. The manufacture did not have them installed with a slope so they could be drained. We continue to have a problem getting the foam pumps to pump foam immediately when called for. The manufacture of these truck has been anything but helpful in resolving the problems.

    With this said we are currently looking to buy a Quint, and this new truck will be CAFS equiped. I have been looking at the new systems and see great improvements for our system who's technology is 6 years old. From what I have seen at the trade shows Waterous has an outstanding system.

    Get out there and look at departments that are using CAFS in your area. We have had problems but I attribute most of them to the person who designed our truck and a manufacture who would not say NO.

  6. #6
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    Thanks again.

    We're in eastern Canada, and it looks like we're going to order out unit from Metalfab, in Centreville, NB. I don't know what kind of track record they have with such systems.

    The thought of all that extra maintenance is kind of scaring me. We have a hard time maintaining what we presently have. Plunking down another 30K on an already expensive pumper, and adding a bunch of ifs, ands, and maybes as far as upkeep goes is gonna be a tough sell to the village council and Chief.

    When you consider that structure fires only consist of roughly 10% of our calls, as nice as having a CAFS system may be, it's looking more and more like we should really question ourselves as to the necessity of such a system...

    When the time comes to replace another of our pumpers in 10 years time, the choice might be clearer...

    Thanks again for the good info.

  7. #7
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    Default Cafs

    Even if CAFS may be over kill for your situation, you should still consider adding Class A Foam capability. Less maintenence, some less training, with many of the benifits of a full CAFS system.

  8. #8
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    Class A foam is a given. We have it on our '97 pumper, and wouldn't go without again. If we don't go the CAFS route, a dual (A&B) system might even be considered...

    Regards,

    RRZ

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    Hi RogerRZ,

    My department has been operating a CAFS Engine since 1998. It is a Pneumax PTO system (now Waterous). We have had no major issues with it. And yes we use it at all fires that we go to. That being said, CAFS is worth the investment. The advantages are lighter hose lines, no friction loss, water supply is better utilized, nozzles are less expensive. cooling is much faster during fire attack with less total water used and firefighter safety is increased thru the application of CAFS.

    Maintenance is the replacement of 3 filters and oil annually. We run our air compressor, per the manufacturer, for 15 minutes a week at operating temperature. This keeps all parts well lubricated and working. We do this during weekly truck checks. Check and clean 2 strainers, which is not hard.

    I would stay away from a dual tank system regardless of CAFS. A and B foam concentrates do not "play" well together and WILL become your worst nightmare if the two of them do mix together.

    I look at the purchase of CAFS as an investment in firefighter safety and not an expense.

    CAFS is not complicated to operate, just something new to learn. Waterous CAFSystem does come with up to 3 days of CAFS instructions at your fire station when the truck is delivered.

    Hope this helps,

    Captain Lou
    "GOTFOAM?"

  10. #10
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    We have been running a Waterous Eclipse system for 3 1/2 years and have had zero problems with it. Use it once on a working structure fire and you'll be sold. Maintenance is as stated in the other posts. Actual operation of the system is actually pretty simple after you get personnel over having more controls on the panel. Most of our operators are volunteers and they do a great job with it and I don't hear any complaints. If money is a deciding factor I would find something else to leave off not the CAFS. Like any other equipment you do have to take care of it but CAFS has made us look good every time we've used it.

  11. #11
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    Roger,

    IF you already have a class A foam system, most of the training is out of the way. Make sure that your manufacturer will install the system in a way that will not void the warranties.

    Once you said that you have a class A already, most of the work is out of the way.

    There is one other thing I'd like to add.... many people are not aware that there are 2 different ways to plumb CAFS...

    1) Plumb each CAFS discharge with a normal control handle for water flow and a switch to turn on the air. This is what most people are used to.

    2) Plumb each CAFS discharge with a normal control handle for water flow and a pressure/flow regulator to control the amount of air that flows through the discharge. THIS is where the confusion and excessive training needs to come in.

    Make sure that you have push buttom simplicity. Any manufacturer can do it.

    Jon

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