BY ALAN M. PETRILLO
It isn’t always necessary to have extra large pumps on vehicles or in portable unit form when water needs to be moved. Pump manufacturers have come out with a variety of pump models and styles that move water well without being a hulking chunk of piping and equipment.
Justin Wilbur, product and business development manager for portable pumps at IDEX Fire Suppression Group’s Hale Products, says Hale makes several models of high-pressure, low-volume pumps that are widely used in wildland firefighting. “These pumps generate the power that pushes water long distances and up inclines,” Wilbur observes. “Our HP75 pump powered by a Briggs & Stratton 18-horsepower (hp) gasoline engine delivers a maximum flow of 150 gallons per minute (gpm) and a maximum pressure of 350 pounds per square inch (psi). With a 23-hp Briggs & Stratton engine, the HP75 puts out a maximum flow of 160 gpm and a maximum pressure of 425 psi.”
Jason Darley, North American sales manager for the pump division at W.S. Darley & Company, says all the portable pumps that Darley makes can be configured in either skid or portable versions. “The portable version has a roll cage with carrying handles that have springs and four locking points, so the handles can be depressed inward when not being used for carrying,” Darley points out. Darley makes the HGE 37V, which he says “is often placed on a skid and is powered by a Briggs & Stratton Vanguard 37-hp gasoline engine to develop 500 gpm at higher pressures that can be used for supply or fighting fires.” The HGE 37V develops higher pressures because it uses a gearbox that allows it to develop higher pressures needed for firefighting operations, Darley adds, and is electronically fuel injected.
Mike Sterbentz, OEM sales manager for Waterous, says its PB18-2515 portable pump is Waterous’s most popular model. It’s powered by an 18-hp V-twin Briggs & Stratton gasoline engine; has recoil and electric start, a venturi-type exhaust, an instrument panel, a 2½-inch inlet, and a 1½-inch discharge; and puts out a maximum of 200 gpm and a maximum pressure of 140 psi.
Waterous also makes the PB18-G2515, a high-pressure portable pump with an intermediate gear case between the power takeoff (PTO) shaft of the engine and the pump. Sterbentz says, “This is a good example of a forestry pump that is typically skid-mounted and is used to overcome elevation or long hoselays. It has a maximum flow of 100 gpm and a maximum pressure of 350 psi.”
Gary Da Silva, product manager for WATERAX, says his company’s MARK-3® portable pump is a wildland portable pump used by the U.S. Forest Service and Canadian Forest Service. “It’s a high-pressure pump powered by a two-stroke gasoline engine and is one-person portable because it only weighs 58 pounds,” Da Silva points out. The MARK-3 will flow a maximum of 98 gpm and develops a maximum pressure of 380 psi.
WATERAX also makes the VERSAX® portable pump that is often used on utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) and rapid-attack vehicles, Da Silva says. “These pumps come in vehicle and portable configurations and also on a movable cart,” he notes. “The VERSAX will produce 80 gpm at 75 psi and 64 gpm at 100 psi.”
Bob Richardson, president of Mercedes Textiles Ltd., says his company makes the Wick 100, an ultra-lightweight portable pump used in wildland scenarios. “It delivers a maximum pressure of 100 psi, and the two-stroke engine version can be backpacked, while the four-stroke model is used in UTV and pickup truck skid units,” Richardson says. “We also make the F200 that delivers higher pressure and flow and with a 13-hp Honda engine is 125 pounds and can be handled by two firefighters.”
Mercedes Textiles also makes the 75-pound SI300 portable pump powered by a 10-hp Briggs & Stratton gasoline engine with a speed increaser that allows for a reduction in weight, Richardson notes, as well as the SI250, a 50-pound portable pump that uses a 7-hp Kohler gasoline engine.
MEDIUM-PRESSURE AND MEDIUM-VOLUME PUMPS
Hale makes the HP200 B18 portable pump that is often used on skid units, Wilbur points out. Powered by an 18-hp Briggs & Stratton gasoline engine, the unit develops a maximum flow of 245 gpm and a maximum pressure of 175 psi.
Darley points out that many state and federal wildland agencies have standardized on Darley’s 1.5AGE medium-volume, medium-pressure portable pump. “The 1.5AGE develops a maximum flow of 180 gpm, depending on the engine, and a maximum pressure of 420 psi,” Darley notes. “Our 2.5AGE has maximum flows up to 300 gpm and maximum pressures up to 250 psi. Both models come in firefighter-portable and skid-/truck-mounted versions.”
Stephan Thibault, international salesman for CET Manufacturing, says CET makes the PSP-20HP-HND-MR portable pump powered by a 20-hp GX630 Honda air-cooled, four-stroke gasoline engine. “It’s a nice combination of volume and pressure and is typically installed as a skid unit on the back of a brush or pickup truck,” Thibault points out. The unit has a 2½-inch inlet, a 1½-inch discharge, a bronze impeller, and an exhaust priming system and will deliver 300 gpm at 25 psi, 100 gpm at 150 psi, and 25 gpm at 200 psi.
WATERAX makes the B2X series of midrange portable pumps that use a drive belt system instead of a gear box, Da Silva says. “The B2X delivers a good mix of volume and pressure, with a maximum flow of 300 gpm and maximum pressure of 200 psi,” he says. “The unit can be powered by an 18-hp or a 23-hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard gasoline engine, a 21-hp Honda gasoline engine, or a Kubota 24.8-hp diesel engine.
Mercedes Textiles makes the Wick 375 and Wick 250 portable pumps that Richardson says “are portable by one firefighter. Strapped to a backboard, the Wick 250 is 31 pounds and develops 250-psi maximum pressure, while the Wick 375 is 55 pounds. You find these pumps in forest services that want to move water for wildland use.”
Wilbur notes his company makes a number of high-volume portable pumps in a variety of flow and pressure ranges that are typically used for water transfer. “Our HP series PowerFlow pumps have a transportable version for water transfer with a base frame and four carrying handles, mounted discharge valve, separate fuel tank, battery, and mounted control panel,” he says. “Depending on the model, the pump has a maximum pressure of 162 to 176 psi. Our most popular water transfer pump is the HPX400 powered by a Briggs & Stratton 18-hp gasoline engine that has a maximum flow of 525 gpm and a maximum discharge pressure of 100 psi.”
Darley says that a popular model portable pump is the HE 18V “easily carried by two firefighters and powered by an 18-hp four-cycle Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine. The HE 18V will pump more than 500 gpm at low pressures, so it’s a good water supply pump,” he says. Another Darley portable is the HE 64RP, which uses an ultra light Rotax aircraft engine that allows the pump to put out a maximum 565 gpm and a maximum pressure of 100 psi. “The Rotax engine spins very fast and has great weight-to-power ratio,” Darley says. “The total weight with a roll cage is 225 pounds, and it’s offered on wheels or in a three- to four-firefighter carry version.”
Sterbentz says the PB18-3030 portable pump that Waterous makes is typically mounted on tankers and used for water transfer. “It has a three-inch inlet and a three-inch discharge and is powered by an 18-hp Briggs & Stratton engine with a maximum flow of 400 gpm and maximum pressure of 110 psi,” he says.
CET Manufacturing makes the PFP-20HP-HND-2D portable pump, says Thibault, that often is used to pump in a hose relay. The pump is powered by a GX630 Honda gasoline engine and has one four-inch inlet, two 2½-inch outlets, a bronze impeller, an exhaust priming system, and a 12-volt battery, he notes, and can pump 350 gpm at 200 psi, 125 gpm at 100 psi, and 600 gpm at 25 psi.
Da Silva of WATERAX says WATERAX’s Striker and BB-4 portable pumps are typically installed on vehicles, although they can be made as man-portable. “In that configuration, it might be set up at a river and pump uphill,” he says. “It has a 23-hp gasoline engine and is often used in wildland fires to move water rapidly. Maximum flow is 104 gpm, and maximum pressure is 440 psi.”
Floating pumps are primarily special-purpose pumps, often used for water transfer to fill a tanker or tender from a river, stream, or lake, notes Wilbur. “Hale makes the Super Chief™ floating pump that has a 10.5-hp Briggs & Stratton four-cycle gasoline engine, which generates a maximum of 425 gpm and a maximum pressure of 50 psi,” Wilbur says. “The pump weighs 127 pounds, has an auto-prime system, and the motor detaches from the float so the unit stores nicely in a compartment.”
Hale Products also makes the FyrFlote™ floating pump in two versions—high-volume and high-pressure. Wilbur points out that the FyrFlote weighs 49 pounds; is mounted on an unsinkable, high-strength polyethylene float with dual carrying handles; and can operate in as little as four inches of water.
Darley says that the company makes the HEF 11H Dolphin™ high-volume self-priming floating pump that can deliver 390 gpm at 20 psi. He notes that the Dolphin has an anodized aluminum alloy pump casing, a bronze impeller, a four-inch screened suction inlet, and a 2½-inch discharge.
Darley also makes the 2BEF-BS Porpoise™ powered by a 190-cc Briggs & Stratton Professional Series engine coupled to a Darley 2BE water pump that provides nearly 300 gpm at 7 psi for tank fill applications or up to 100 gpm at almost 40 psi for fire suppression.
Sterbentz says his company’s Floto™ floating pump has been very popular over the years. “We make it in standard and high-pressure versions using different impellers to produce the same flow,” Sterbentz says. “The high-pressure version is used in wildland applications and can draft in as little as four inches of water.” The standard model has a maximum flow of 150 gpm and maximum pressure of 100 psi, he says, while the high-pressure Floto has a maximum flow of 60 gpm and a maximum pressure of 170 psi.
CET Manufacturing makes three floating pump models, Thibault says. Its PFP-6HP-FL is powered by a Kawasaki FJ180V gasoline engine that gives 200 gpm at 5 psi, 170 gpm at 10 psi, 105 gpm at 20 psi, and 50 gpm at 30 psi through a three-inch inlet and a 2½-inch discharge.
CET’s PFP-11HPHND-FL floating pump has a maximum flow of 320 gpm and maximum pressure of 70 psi, using a GXV340 Honda four-stroke gasoline engine, while its PFP-13HPHND-FL model uses the same engine but delivers a maximum flow of 360 gpm and maximum pressure of 70 psi.
Richardson says his company has developed the Wick FT-200-4B four-stroke floating pump. “It’s very stable on a large float that is easy to start, quiet, and long running,” he says. “The pump has a 1½-inch discharge and develops a maximum pressure of 200 psi.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.