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    Default Supply line options.....

    I am in the process of driver training. I have been taught in the past “basic” fire apparatus pumping techniques, but nothing really in depth so far. The training we receive is in house by our training officer. So far at just about every fire I have gone to, the pump operator will run the supply line directly to the tank fill at the rear of the pumper and the supply line fills the tank which runs to the pump. However I have seen other departments run the supply line into the side of the panel and from what I can only assume is going directly to the pump itself. However that’s not how they are teaching us to do it.

    So in short, how does the process of running the supply line directly into the pump work? And what are the pros/cons of using the supply line as we currently do, running it to the tank first?

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    By going directly into the pump you can monitor your residual pressure and maintain at least 10psi. In this way you can tell the truck feeding you to either increase or decrease the pressure. But be careful, if you are feeding the attack line with 125psi and the supply comes in to you at a 100 psi, that guy on the attack line will have 225 psi, and he won't be happy. I'm just curious as to how you know if you are getting enough water from the supply line or not.

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    If your line is going direct to the tank, you cannot use that water directly for attack lines(it has to go to the tank first then to the pump to be used). By supplying to your pump intake, you can not only refill your tank( pull the tank fill slightly if pumping), but you can use the water directly to attack lines. For instance if your rig should somehow quit (shut down, loose pump gear, whatever....), you can at least use the residual pressure from the hydrant to continue supplying an attack line which hopefully may be enough pressure to at least afford the attack crew some protection while getting out of the hot zone. In fact a good hydrant can (depending on the length of the supply lay) have just enough if not more pressure needed to suplly one or two 1 3/4 lines without having to increase any pressure using the pump.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    By going directly into the pump you can monitor your residual pressure and maintain at least 10psi. In this way you can tell the truck feeding you to either increase or decrease the pressure. But be careful, if you are feeding the attack line with 125psi and the supply comes in to you at a 100 psi, that guy on the attack line will have 225 psi, and he won't be happy. I'm just curious as to how you know if you are getting enough water from the supply line or not.
    In this case, this is exactly why it is so important to use the relief valve. Should your pressure spike by 100 psi and your relief is set to say 150 psi, there will only be a slight difference in the pressure at the tip. Then you can throttle down the pump until you get back to your desired pressure.

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    ...or you can gate back the affected line to reduce a sudden handline overpressure.


    First, are you sure it's a direct tank fill, and not just a remotely plumbed pump intake??


    I find there are few benefits to direct tank fill over direct pump supply, unless you have no large diameter intake valve on your pump (i.e That would require you to shut and drain the pump to connect the LDH). The tank is less susceptible to water hammer and pressure spike than the pump, but the tank can still be damaged by an overpressured fill line, or even worse, overpressurizing a full tank.

    Most engines have either an integrated intake gate valve, or leave an accessory piston relief valve on at all times. We leave a PRV mounted on the right side of our engine, and on both sides of the ladder at all times. This allows the supply to be added or removed at any time. The only small downside is that a sloppy connection can interrupt your pump prime (if the air is not bled, or the valve is opened too fast).

    The benefits to direct-pump supply are many:

    1. pump and engine work less as the compounded pressure shares the effort

    2. higher pressures and flows can be obtained if the supply is strong (well above the pumps rating)

    3. operator has direct control over how much water is being drawn from, or redirected back into, the tank.

    4. operator can isolate the tank completely if water supply is not clean (i.e. ground source or grey water)

    5. operator can easily monitor and manage his supply pressure/flow/residual

    6. even if the truck dies, the handlines still have limited pressure, or can be pumped through the disabled pump by the supply engine (or vise-versa)

    etc, etc, etc


    Some potential hazards of direct pump supply are:

    1. Supply failure can immediatley affect the handlines (operator must be on the ball).

    2. Sloppy connection can introduce air and lose prime (see no. 1)

    3. Debris can enter pump directly, tank can act as a settling pool (but is harder to clean out)

    4. overpressures can affect handlines

    5. water hammer can affect pump/appliances/handlines, etc


    We have one direct tank fill on our aerial, but we supply directly via the pump PRV's.
    Last edited by mcaldwell; 08-20-2007 at 12:20 AM.
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    Alright, I am prepared to be made fun of, but that’s how I learn…..

    On our department we are told to connect directly to the tank (either because the people training us do not know any other method or because that’s just the way they like to do it). To be honest with you, the only way I know I am getting enough water is by the water level indicator on the pump panel telling me how much water I have in the tank. Otherwise I have no reading telling me how many psi I am actually receiving from a hydrant or other engine pumping water to me. And when connected to a hydrant the way I know that the tank is full is when the pressure release kicks in and starts dumping water all over the ground. This is the way I was taught, but I knew there were other ways of doing this. 100% of the pressure going to the attack lines is coming from the pump pushing the water to the lines, not residual.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ehs7554 View Post
    If your line is going direct to the tank, you cannot use that water directly for attack lines(it has to go to the tank first then to the pump to be used). By supplying to your pump intake, you can not only refill your tank( pull the tank fill slightly if pumping), but you can use the water directly to attack lines. For instance if your rig should somehow quit (shut down, loose pump gear, whatever....), you can at least use the residual pressure from the hydrant to continue supplying an attack line which hopefully may be enough pressure to at least afford the attack crew some protection while getting out of the hot zone. In fact a good hydrant can (depending on the length of the supply lay) have just enough if not more pressure needed to suplly one or two 1 3/4 lines without having to increase any pressure using the pump.
    In our case we are feeding the attack truck with a second truck. Although, in some cases we simply put the portable pond next to the attack truck and let it do it all. Brings up a good point. Maybe we should always connect the two trucks that way if one does die the other can still feed the attack lines.

    Oh yea, some of us set the relief valve, some don't. It's one of those things that seems to get overlooked

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    This is how I was taught to run the pump, even when not hooked up to a hydrant….

    1)Switch to pump gear.
    2)Pull “tank to pump”
    3)Throttle up
    4)Pull whatever jump line is in use
    5)Connect to a hydrant/other engine into the rear with the tank fill intake
    6)When the water starts to get low tell the other engine to give me water

    This is our operation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    This is how I was taught to run the pump, even when not hooked up to a hydrant….

    1)Switch to pump gear.
    2)Pull “tank to pump”
    3)Throttle up
    4)Pull whatever jump line is in use
    5)Connect to a hydrant/other engine into the rear with the tank fill intake
    6)When the water starts to get low tell the other engine to give me water

    This is our operation.
    Not telling you how to do it, but as said in the previous posts, this is not the most effective way to pump. By using just the pump, you are working your engine (the actual motor) harder than it needs to be. Another small factor of this, is that you are making a lot more noise on the fire ground and especially at the pump panel. Your rig is reving higher. As said before by going to the pump intake, you may only need to increase your throttle by a few rpm's and/or a few psi if any...

    Additionally, I hope you are flowing water into the handline first, before you throttle up. Basically your step 4 should come before 3. And if you drain your pump after each use, which we don't usually do, you may want to pull your primer valve after you have opened the tank to pump valve. This will assure that your pump has water in it with less chance of getting air in there.


    To question a post above, (and I may be wrong) but how do you over-pressurize a tank? All of our rigs have a 6")if not bigger) overfill outlet, which even with a 1500 gpm hydrant, would not cause problems. Again i could be wrong, but I have filled from many 1500 gpm hydrants and have had the water come out the overflow and have not had any problems.
    Last edited by ehs7554; 08-20-2007 at 01:25 AM.

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    Another thought....I assume that you are relay pumping?? In theory the pumper that supplies you can be pumping your handlines. have them hook to your pump intake and they can adjust pressure accordingly in which you can monitor your gauges to make sure they are sending the right pressure. Plus, as stated above you could crack your tank fill to top of your booster tank to keep it full(assuming that you used some water from it before you had a water supply). Once it is full close it off and only use your booster tank for backup water supply should you loose your main water supply. This should be enough (again) to get the guys out of the hot zone.

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    To question a post above, (and I may be wrong) but how do you over-pressurize a tank? All of our rigs have a 6")if not bigger) overfill outlet, which even with a 1500 gpm hydrant, would not cause problems.
    I've heard of rigs designed without overfills, and subsequent carnage when the tank ruptures.... apparently these are really old apparatus?

    I see Fyred's around...he's probably preparing a very good lecture on the whole main question posed by Kevin, so I'll let him handle that, cause he's a lot more succinct and to the point than I am. LOL

    I will say though, that about 75% of our current apparatus fleet (just counting heavies) does not have a Direct Tank Fill.... I'm guessing that's for a reason.
    As EHS said, the only real downside to connecting into the pump intake, whether main or aux, is the potential for water hammer or overpressure, or losing prime briefly because of air forced into the pump by the supply engine...but those problems are easily correctable by good operator training.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

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    The proper way to take a pressurized supply line in is through an intake into the pump. You should have a pump to tank valve that allows you to keep the tank full while supplying the handlines in operation.

    There are a couple of issues with taking the supply line into the tank:

    1) As previosuly mentioned, if the attack pumper craps out a pressurized water source can buy the guys inside a little time to get out, by supplying pressure right through that pump and into the attack lines.

    2) If the tank fill doesn't have an automatic shut off when full it could get real wet by the rig by overfilling the tank and having the excess run out onto the ground.

    3) What size is your tank to pump line? If it is 3 inches or less figure on getting between 500 to 750 a minute. Hardly enough for any major fire.

    Almost always best to go directly into the pump, the one exception might be if you have a CAFs system that would be overpowered by incoming pressure and water directly to the pump. Then you may have to go in the tank and these systems have check valves.

    Good luck,

    FyredUp

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    Kevin, what several guys on here have said in a way is that centrifugal pumps take advantage of pressure on the intake side of your pump...therefor if you have 100 psi coming directly into the intake side of your pump your truck only has to create the remainder of your desired pressure. Also remember that if you start your initial attack off tank water you should refill your tank as soon as possible, just in case you loose your supply you will have a full tank to continue op's or make egress whatever the case may be. Depending on the age, make , design of your pump you most likely have a tank refill directly off of your pump this allows you to refill your pump in cases where your source of supply is not strong enough to overcome the head pressure created by your tank..I have never seen a tank that did not have an overflow and never worried about overpressurizing the tank.

    Always set your relief valve..for the protection of the men on the nozzle.

    Also as others have said by connecting straight to the pump manifold if your truck goes down another pumper can pump straight through the attack pumper.

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    How large is your TANK to PUMP outlet? Most are about 2 1/2 and obviously restrict how much water you can pump.

    Unless there is some underlying reason for your operations that we are unaware of here I would say you need a complete change to your pumping ops.

    FTM-PTB

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFFRED View Post
    How large is your TANK to PUMP outlet? Most are about 2 1/2 and obviously restrict how much water you can pump.

    Unless there is some underlying reason for your operations that we are unaware of here I would say you need a complete change to your pumping ops.

    FTM-PTB

    Thats what I was going to ask. Id say a lot of rigs out there dont even have a 2 1/2" tank to pump line. Not much of this operation makes any sense. I would love to hear the rational behind it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    And when connected to a hydrant the way I know that the tank is full is when the pressure release kicks in and starts dumping water all over the ground.
    Others have answered your question well. The above quote brings me to ask: Are you sure this is the "pressure release (relief?)" kicking in or just the tank overflow that sends water to the ground when the tank is full?

    As previously noted by Fyredup if you have CAFs or and around the pump B foam system, their use may dictate the use of direct tank fills. Also as FFFRED notes, with a small tank to pump valve/line more often than not you can't supply the capacity of the pump from water from the tank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    I've heard of rigs designed without overfills, and subsequent carnage when the tank ruptures.... apparently these are really old apparatus?

    I see Fyred's around...he's probably preparing a very good lecture on the whole main question posed by Kevin, so I'll let him handle that, cause he's a lot more succinct and to the point than I am. LOL

    I will say though, that about 75% of our current apparatus fleet (just counting heavies) does not have a Direct Tank Fill.... I'm guessing that's for a reason.
    As EHS said, the only real downside to connecting into the pump intake, whether main or aux, is the potential for water hammer or overpressure, or losing prime briefly because of air forced into the pump by the supply engine...but those problems are easily correctable by good operator training.
    Now that's funny right there. Everything has a reason, it's just sometimes the reason isn't very good, flawed, or outdated. Which brings me to my next question. In our rural settings we use the trucks as tankers most of the time, occasionally there is relay pumping involved. That said, when you go to the water source to refill do you have to pump in your own water or does the water source truck pump it in?

    And it has been implied but not said explicitly. ALWAYS think about the guy on the nozzle. That is the poor slob doing most of the work and he really doesn't appreciate getting too much water or not enough. After the first line is charged you can't really throttle down to charge the next line. I almost think throttle up then charge the line is better. That way you get in the habit of opening the valve to the line slowly Key is to really make sure you don't put too much pressure in the line.

    In our case, since we usually pump from a portable pond, we use the tank as a reserve in case our pond runs dry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFFRED View Post
    How large is your TANK to PUMP outlet? Most are about 2 1/2 and obviously restrict how much water you can pump.

    Unless there is some underlying reason for your operations that we are unaware of here I would say you need a complete change to your pumping ops.

    FTM-PTB
    Just curious here, how much water can you get through a 2 1/2 inch opening? And let's just assume it is from a tank at ambient air pressure going into a pump that is creating a less than ambient pressure. So in our case the pressure differential would be up to 14 psi.

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    To question a post above, (and I may be wrong) but how do you over-pressurize a tank? All of our rigs have a 6")if not bigger) overfill outlet, which even with a 1500 gpm hydrant, would not cause problems. Again I could be wrong, but I have filled from many 1500 gpm hydrants and have had the water come out the overflow and have not had any problems.
    It's truck specific, and the older ones can be any combination of sizes. Our old 79 has only a 2" overflow, and I have seen the 8" inspection port come flying off the body when the tank was overfilled.

    I don't think the new trucks would be a problem, but we have not tried to put a 6 inch or bigger supply line into it yet.


    I would love to know the reasoning for Kevin's crew not placing the supply on the pump. If it is just not done at all, I think they are just placing huge (and artificial) limitations on those trucks. You may never see the fire that you can't keep up to, but if you ran a few tests on the other technique, I think you would be pleasantly surprised by the flow and pressure benefits alone.
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    One of our problems comes from a lack of the amount of hydrants in our area. Yes we do have many hydrants, but they are spaced out and sometimes when you pull up to a house the nearest hydrant may be half a mile in either direction. However sometimes we pull up and there is a hydrant in the front yard. It just all depends. Anyways, many fires have been where we are pumping all of our water from the tank and the engine/pump is building up 1001% of the pressure in the lines. Because a lot of times we have to disconnect and the other engine or tanker has to drive to the nearest hydrant, fill up, and then come back and fill the tank back up. We have a tank size of 1200 gallons on both engines.

    Sometimes though we do connect to a hydrant, and 99% of the time we connect the supply line to the rear of the engine in the tank fill inlet. That’s just how I was taught. As I said before, I do not know if the people teaching just do not know any other method or if they just like the tank method, but this is what I was told to do. However we have 2 guys who are career firefighters and they brought up the method many of you are talking about, which is why I came here to ask about it.

    I do know that most of the hydrants have a lot of pressure behind them. And we do have “hot” hydrants that could peel the pants of the truck. So if you have that much pressure from a hydrant coming into your pump, how do you control all of that pressure from going into the lines, and where does all of the extra water go? Does is just dump from the relieve or do you have to control that?

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    Well since most trucks pump at 150 or higher, and most "good" hydrants are no more than 150, there is not always a need to control "excess" pressure. Generally, your pump just idles, or runs very low to make up the difference. That is good for the equipment, as it doesn't build heat, cause wear, and therefore lasts longer.

    If you do happen to have a 180 psi hydrant, you just gate it back either on the intake valve, or preferably on the discharge valves.

    As for the extra water, it just waits in the line until a handline is opened.


    I would think if you are shuttling a lot, you would want to invest in a porta tank procedure too. That way if you aren't using the water right this instant, you can still continue to build up your stockpile in the event the fire goes south. I would rather have 1200 in my attack engine, with 3000 in the porta tank, PLUS the tender/backup engine ready, to ensure I stay ahead of the fire.

    If you just connect the full tender to the pump and wait for the pump to make room for the water, you are potentially going to be playing catch up, and you will not be able to use a master stream at all without draining your reserve in seconds.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    One of our problems comes from a lack of the amount of hydrants in our area. Yes we do have many hydrants, but they are spaced out and sometimes when you pull up to a house the nearest hydrant may be half a mile in either direction. However sometimes we pull up and there is a hydrant in the front yard. It just all depends. Anyways, many fires have been where we are pumping all of our water from the tank and the engine/pump is building up 1001% of the pressure in the lines. Because a lot of times we have to disconnect and the other engine or tanker has to drive to the nearest hydrant, fill up, and then come back and fill the tank back up. We have a tank size of 1200 gallons on both engines.

    Sometimes though we do connect to a hydrant, and 99% of the time we connect the supply line to the rear of the engine in the tank fill inlet. That’s just how I was taught. As I said before, I do not know if the people teaching just do not know any other method or if they just like the tank method, but this is what I was told to do. However we have 2 guys who are career firefighters and they brought up the method many of you are talking about, which is why I came here to ask about it.

    I do know that most of the hydrants have a lot of pressure behind them. And we do have “hot” hydrants that could peel the pants of the truck. So if you have that much pressure from a hydrant coming into your pump, how do you control all of that pressure from going into the lines, and where does all of the extra water go? Does is just dump from the relieve or do you have to control that?

    Most of the other comments about supply lines being hooked to a pump intake are correct. As a"rule of thumb", you should hook supply lines into an intake on the pump panel. This will help utilize the pressure from the water main in conjunction with your pump,(assuming the water system has sufficient water flow and pressure). You can also fill your tank and keep it full and use it as an emergency back up should the hydrant fail. By using the hydrant's pressure in conjunction with your pump, you reduce the amount of work your engine is doing to keep the pump pressures up. If the hydrant main is weak and does not have good pressure, the operation should call for using tankers as well. The tankers can be viewed as a "limited supply, above ground hydrant" to keep the thought process simple. The supply from the tankers should also be hooked into the intake on the pump. Using this method of hooking your supply to the intake on the pump will allow you to keep an eye on your pressures, your supply lines( to ensure you are not demanding more water out of the pump than you are getting in), and should there be a problem in the supply system, you should be able to recognize it faster and correct the problem with minimal interruptions in the water supply. Your pumper will also be doing less work. As far as high hydrant pressures and the fear of giving to much pressure to the handlines, a good intake valve with a built in pressure relief valve, will solve that problem. If you don't have one of those valves on your pump intake, set your relief valve. If you have a good fire chief, or a training officer that is open to change and new ideas, approach him and talk with him about some of the ideas and suggestions you have gotten from these replies on your questions. A few ideas to work with in the fire service that have helped me and my department are: "keep it simple and safe", "work smarter not harder", and "Everyone Goes Home". Good luck, use your mind, and train hard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    Now that's funny right there. Everything has a reason, it's just sometimes the reason isn't very good, flawed, or outdated. Which brings me to my next question. In our rural settings we use the trucks as tankers most of the time, occasionally there is relay pumping involved. That said, when you go to the water source to refill do you have to pump in your own water or does the water source truck pump it in?
    All of our heavies are draft-capable (rotary vane primer pumps) and carry about 16' of hard suction (figuring you can realistically get about 14' of lift, and have 2' in the water so you don't lose prime accidentally). If you go to refill at a draft site, you're drafting your own water. We don't have the spare apparatus or manpower to have one unit parked at a draft site, just filling his own tank then pumping it to the incoming units. Certainly that might be a faster way to do it (saving time on set-up/break-down of the draft), but the small savings doesn't really justify having equipment and manpower spending a lot of idle time when they could be working at the incident.

    And it has been implied but not said explicitly. ALWAYS think about the guy on the nozzle. That is the poor slob doing most of the work and he really doesn't appreciate getting too much water or not enough. After the first line is charged you can't really throttle down to charge the next line. I almost think throttle up then charge the line is better. That way you get in the habit of opening the valve to the line slowly Key is to really make sure you don't put too much pressure in the line.
    Throttle down, no. Gate down, yes. After all, what if you're running two 200' 1.75" preconnects at 120psi, and decide to put a 200GPM duece-n-a-half into play as well? Well, guess you'll just have to pump 120 and gate the deuce down to 70ish, eh? That's why having a gauge on every discharge is a very good idea.
    "Soft-charging", whether by opening the lines with your pump at idle, or gating them very slowly until they fill, well, as the Sam Adams' commercial goes: "Always a good choice!"
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

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    If I had to venture a guess, Kevin's SOPs sounds like at some point in the past someone simplified the training by saying run everything into the tank first rather then providing the options.

    We run to the tank fills when supplied by shuttle.

    We run to the pump intake when supplied by laid line to hydrant or static source.

    In the hybrid situation of a hose lay to a dump site using a nurse tanker and/or drop tanks, we'll still normally treat it as a shuttle and put the supply to our tank fills.

    Our attack Engine-Tank is set up with the tank fill at the pump panel, so the pump operator can easily gate back if his tank is overflowing. Our supply ET is equipped with slightly more efficient rear fills. Having been assigned to stand on back bumpers to run rear-fills on other company's attack ETs, I really prefer it where the pump op alone controls them!

    ==============
    In my area (much more setup for frequent pump-to-tank operations, frequently sustaining 500gpm-1000gpm operations via tanks then Fred's experience), nothing has less then dual 3" tank-to-pump plumbing in service. Single 4" is also common, and some departments have gone with dual 4".

    Tank fills are usually 3" or 4". Our supply tanker has two fills -- a 3" with 2.5" fittings, and a 4" with 4"/5" storz fitting, which is a decent amount of flexibility. (I believe it was just a cost reason -- mainly valve cost -- to only use 3" of the 2nd fill).

    There was some older early 1970s tankers around when I first joined, and even back then they were shunned -- no matter if they carried 2,500+ gallons they were so "pipe-bound" by inadequate plumbing and/or pumps they mucked up shuttles. The small Engine-Tanks (1000-1500gwt) could outperform them. Today, with improved plumbing and diesel engines, etc the big Engine-Tanks solidly outperform the little guys.

    It's a legitimate concern, and something that would be neat for an informal drill while out on pump practice -- how fast can you pump off your tank? 1000gpm? 800gpm? 500gpm? 300gpm? You know the tank capacity, so even without a scale, you probably make a pretty educated guess that's in the ballpark using just a stopwatch to time yourself from when you start pumping to when the pump spins up from lack of water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    All of our heavies are draft-capable (rotary vane primer pumps) and carry about 16' of hard suction (figuring you can realistically get about 14' of lift, and have 2' in the water so you don't lose prime accidentally). If you go to refill at a draft site, you're drafting your own water. We don't have the spare apparatus or manpower to have one unit parked at a draft site, just filling his own tank then pumping it to the incoming units. Certainly that might be a faster way to do it (saving time on set-up/break-down of the draft), but the small savings doesn't really justify having equipment and manpower spending a lot of idle time when they could be working at the incident.
    I see. We have a utility truck with a portable pump on it. We use that for our water source truck. There are also a couple of departments with dedicated water source trucks, about a 1 or 1 1/2 ton truck. All they do is pump water. This way the pumps are primed and ready to go, just pull up with the tanker, hook up, and fill.

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