Bigger Pumps in Smaller Packages

Alan M. Petrillo

Pump manufacturers have responded to fire department requests for fire apparatus pumps that can flow plenty of water yet take up the least amount of space on their vehicles so any extra space saved can be dedicated to equipment storage or other uses.

Narrowing Pumps

Jon Moore, national sales manager for Hale Products Inc., says that his company’s QMAX-XS-the XS stands for extra space-is a slimmed down version of its popular QMAX pump with the same flow characteristics and in the same versions that will generate from 1,250 to 2,000 gallons per minute (gpm).

Moore notes that the QMAX-XS takes a foot off the pump box with no loss of functionality. “The QMAX is our most reliable and largest selling pump,” Moore says. “It’s virtually indestructible and delivers very good performance. The XS version builds on those characteristics but in a smaller package that saves space on a vehicle and has many interchangeable parts with the QMAX.”

Hale isn’t a stranger to putting the most amount of performance into a smaller package, Moore notes. “We came out with the QPAK, a pump rated from 750 to 1,000 gpm, about 20 years ago and it was the original small pump for the fire service,” he says. “This was the smallest version available of a fully manifolded midship pump.”

The Waterous CXS end suction pump with ram's horns on the pump's inlet
(1) The Waterous CXS end suction pump with ram’s horns on the pump’s inlet allows the company to put a 1,500-gpm pump into a 28-inch-wide package when using electric discharge valves. (Photo courtesy of Waterous.)

He adds that the QPAK can be run off of a J gearbox for a left or right power takeoff (PTO) or off of a standard G gearbox for a split-shaft midship drive off the vehicle’s transmission. “QPAK is a very slim pump that sets up well for smaller chassis and for tankers where you want a smaller pump box,” Moore says. “It also works well in smaller brush trucks. It’s the original pump that started the series of narrow pumps we have out now, like the QMAX-2 and the QFLO.”

Bruce Senn, Hale’s Southeast regional sales manager, says Hale also makes the Sidekick, a pump available in the 500- to 1,500-gpm range but that doesn’t require a conventional pump box. “Sidekick fits in a compartment and can be narrowed down to 24 inches wide,” Senn says. “It’s great for rescues and tankers. The pump is available as both a package and a kit that bolts to the side of the frame rail and works with several different models of pumps.”

The S101 end suction pump made by Waterous
(2) The S101 end suction pump made by Waterous uses schedule 10 stainless steel plumbing and can fit into a 38-inch pump house for a 1,500-gpm model. (Photo courtesy of Waterous.)

End Suction

Paul Darley, president and chief executive officer of Darley, says the fire industry has seen a strong move away from big midship fire pumps and toward end suction pumps. “End suction allows an apparatus builder or pump manufacturer to custom design the pump manifolds-the suction and discharge manifolds-which can free up a lot of space in the pump compartment that can be put to other uses.”

Darley says one of the key driving forces in putting bigger pumps in smaller packages is the freeing up of space on fire apparatus for other uses. “The second key is the availability of large or full torque PTOs, and the third key is pricing,” he adds. “An apparatus or pump maker can design manifolds that reduce cost and increase throughput on assembly.”

Built for Actual Usage

There used to be a train of thought in the fire industry that with a big pump, a double suction impeller was needed, Darley points out, even for a single-stage pump, but that line of thought is changing. “Today we know that fire pumps are engaged on less than five percent of all calls,” Darley says. “It makes no sense to tie up 30 percent of vehicle space with a pump and its associated equipment when that space can be made smaller and have less impact on the vehicle. The days of 60- to 80-inch pump panels are gone because they take up space, weigh a lot, and are expensive. And, a small pump panel allows the truck to have a shorter wheelbase.”

QMAX-XS, a slimmed down version of the QMAX pump
(3) Hale Products makes the QMAX-XS, a slimmed down version of the QMAX pump, that will generate from 1,250 to 2,000 gpm. (Photo courtesy of Hale Products Inc.)

Darley notes that his company builds end suction pumps for Pierce Manufacturing as the PUC pump and for E-ONE as the eMAX pump. Darley also makes a line of end suction pumps that are available for multipurpose vehicles, he notes, which leads to smaller pump panels. “For our end suction pumps where we custom design the manifold, we call them System Solutions,” Darley says. “You’ll find them on our PSP pump (PTO), PSM (midship), PSR (rear-mount), and PSRH (high-pressure rear-mount).” Gallonage for the PS series ranges from 1,000 to 1,750 gpm for the PSM and from 1,000 to 1,500 gpm for the PTO and rear-mount versions. Darley notes, “Most of the world uses end suction pumps, and we ship over a thousand of them each year to customers around the globe.”

“We also are introducing a new ZS single suction pump for fire applications that will deliver 3,000 gpm at 150 psi and 3,500 gpm at 100-psi for industrial applications.”

Smaller Pump Houses

Steve Toren, director of North American sales and marketing for Waterous, believes a lot of work has been done by apparatus and pump manufacturers in recent years to limit the amount of real estate a pump takes up on a fire apparatus. “Manufacturers have been deemphasizing the pump and how it impacts the vehicle as a whole,” Toren notes.

At one time, pumpers needed 48- to 60-inch pump panels to fit all the intakes and discharges, Toren says. “But, fire departments wanted to reduce that space because they wanted more compartment space for rescue and other equipment,” he adds.

Toren says Waterous offers an end suction pump, the S100, in four ratings: 1,250, 1,500, 1,750, and 2,000 gpm. The S100 saves space by having a smaller pump compartment. “We use schedule 10 stainless steel plumbing in this pump, which is thinner than cast iron, so there’s a great weight reduction-in the area of 400 to 500 pounds in weight savings,” he says. “That’s also allowed for a reduction in the space requirements in a pump compartment because manufacturers are able to design the plumbing to be smaller. Where a standard pump housing for a 1,500-gpm pump used to be 48 inches, we’ve been able to bring it down to a 38- to 40-inch pump house.”

Waterous also makes the CX end suction pump in 1,250- and 1,500-gpm versions that saves space on apparatus. “When we close couple a ram’s horn pump inlet on the pump, it becomes the CXS model, while the ram’s horns on the S100 become the S101 pump, both of which create a more compact pump that saves a ton of space,” Toren says. “Typically the pump panel is 34 to 36 inches with standard push/pull valves, but if we don’t need the linkages and go to electric valves, we can get it down to 28 inches.”

Darley end suction pump for its space-saving qualities on its new pumper
(4) Darley builds a series of end suction pumps with custom designed manifolds in PTO, midship, rear-mount, and high-pressure rear-mount versions. The St. John’s (MI) Fire Department chose a Darley end suction pump for its space-saving qualities on its new pumper. (Photo courtesy of W.S. Darley.)

Pump Modules

Toren notes that Waterous also makes pump modules, which can save space and still deliver top performance. “We have a fully manifolded CSU pump that will deliver up to 2,250 gpm that goes into a 34-inch pump panel with all electric discharge valves,” he says.

Toren doesn’t think that pumps can get much smaller than they are today without impacting their functionality but he adds, “we will see more creative ways to mount those pumps.”

Proprietary Pumps

Donley Frederickson, national sales manager for Rosenbauer, says his company builds its own pumps for its fire apparatus as well as installs pumps from other pump manufacturers. “Our pumps come in single- and two-stage, with one series being a normal pressure pump-our N pump-and the other a simultaneous high-pressure pump-the NH-which is finding great application in wildland and urban interface units,” Frederickson says.

Frederickson says that to get smaller pump panels on fire apparatus, it’s important to go with an end suction pump, also known as a pedestal style pump. “An end suction pump only draws water in on one side of the impeller, where a full bodied pump draws in at both sides,” he says. “Drawing in at two sides will give you a little better drafting capability, but the output of the two pumps will still be the same.”

He notes that because Rosenbauer builds the suction and discharge manifolds, it can customize them and craft different radiuses onto them to save space in the pump compartment. “When an end suction pump is put in the midship position, you generally can shave 10 inches off the pump panel,” Frederickson says. “You often can take about two feet out of the pump area if you’re willing to keep the number of discharges within reason-for instance, three 2½-inch discharges, a couple of large-diameter intakes, two preconnects, and a deck gun, which is in the eight to 10 control handle range.”

In terms of front- and rear-mount pumps, Frederickson says almost all of them are end suction pumps, although he has been seeing fewer front mount applications lately. “End suction pumps also can be easier to maintain and service,” he points out. “Rosenbauer’s can be dropped straight down out of the frame rail in a matter of an hour or two, making service that much simpler.”

ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based freelance journalist 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.


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