Adams, Apparatus, Engine Company, Equipment, Features, Pumpers

Cantankerous Wisdom: Ever Wonder Why?

By Bill Adams

The Raisin Squad’s morning coffee started out quiet. Everyone took their meds; hearing aids were in place; most brought their reading glasse;s and half used soap and water in lieu of just aftershave. Coffee was hot, life was good. Then, everything went downhill. When there’s nothing new to jabber about, geezers rehash old stuff—whether or not we know anything about it. This time, the topic was deluge sets, and to stoke the fires, I slipped in friction losses. We were jawboning about the prepiped deluge sets that can be removed and used with a separate base as a portable. Most of us haven’t operated a pump in many years, but that doesn’t preclude us from becoming instant experts. I found a 30-year-old operational manual for the particular deluge set we were talking about and, just to make things interesting, I’d ask a couple questions each morning. It was fun, and it worked for a while until they got aggravated. Their collective comments are in italics.

* Why is a prepiped master stream on a pumper called a deck gun but called a deluge set or a portable monitor when on the ground? Who cares? What difference does it make? Maybe the two names cost more.

* If a deluge set has 25-psi friction loss when flowing 1,250 gpm and 15-psi friction loss when flowing 1,000 gpm or less, does a pump operator have to calculate that in his discharge pressure? Just flow one gallonage and you don’t have to worry about it.

* Why does the deck gun have a maximum flow of 1,250 gpm when mounted on the rig but when used as a portable it is rated at 1,000 gpm when supplied by a 5-inch line and only 800 gpm when supplied through the two 2½-inch inlets? Ask the fool that sold them. Oh, that was you, wasn’t it? Never mind.

* Why buy an automatic nozzle that flows from 300 to 1,250 gpm if you’re only going to flow a single gallonage? Ask the chief. Its above my pay grade.

* Why put quad stacked tips on a deluge set if you don’t teach everyone what each one flows? Do you really think anybody knows how much they flow? Who cares? Besides, they’re chrome and they look good. Ask the training officer.

* Does the pump’s discharge pressure have to change when you change tip sizes? Don’t change tips, and there isn’t a problem. Ask the lieutenants—it’ll be fun to watch them squirm.

* Why would you change the gun’s tip size on the fireground? I don’t know. Why would you?

* What straight tip reaches the farthest? If you park close enough to the fire, you don’t have to worry about it.

* What’s more efficient: pumping a master stream’s straight tip at 50-psi or 70-psi nozzle pressure? I think it’s time for you to go home.

A couple of days later, most of us forgot what we were talking about. Another morning, the gang was watching a fire on the morning news that showed a local department’s rig painted black over red. They went tilt. Why black? I thought they were supposed to be white over red. I saw one with a blue top. That ain’t nothing; I’ve seen white over green! What the hell is this world coming to? Does blue cost more? They’re supposed to be all red. Do two-tone paint jobs put fires out faster?

The following week one geezer brought up the quad stacked tips again, bemoaning that drivers can’t even remember how much to pump into various size preconnects let alone what each deck gun tip is supposed to flow. Why you foolish old coot—that problem was solved years ago when the discharge pressures were marked on the individual pressure gauges. Well, I can’t remember—besides I haven’t driven a rig in over 10 years. The photo (by author) shows five individual pressure gauges showing four different discharge pressures on a late 1990s era pumper. Ya can’t see yellow too good, the tape should’ve been red. Some crotchety white hairs will find fault with apple pie, sunshine, fresh air, and sliced bread.

BILL ADAMS is a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board, a former fire apparatus salesman, and a past chief of the East Rochester (NY) Fire Department. He has 50 years of experience in the volunteer fire service.