By Doug Miller
Nearly two years ago, you may have read an article about pump intake valves in the May 2014 issue of Fire Apparatus and Emergency Equipment.
In the article, I mentioned a work-in-progress Pump Selection Guide. Here is a quick recap and an update on where the guide stands today.
Over the past several years, shrinking budgets have forced many fire departments to evaluate and make changes in their business models. Every expenditure is scrutinized in an effort to make every dollar count and to spend limited funds wisely.
Many departments have had to delay purchasing much-needed fire apparatus during this time. However, these delays can only happen for so long as aging fire apparatus may be costing too much in repairs, may no longer be safe, or may not be the proper tools for the changing missions of the agencies. If this sounds like your department, then it’s likely that fire apparatus replacement may be one of the top line items in your budget. But, will you replace an old, worn-out pumper with something that has nearly the same layout? Or, will the fire apparatus be specified with the latest technology and a different layout to accommodate more equipment to serve multiple types of missions?
Fast forward to today, and it appears a growing number of departments are able to purchase those much-needed fire apparatus replacements. When doing so, departments should consider many factors for fire apparatus, specifically a new pumper, which may be the workhorse of the fleet. These factors typically include the following:
- The vehicle’s mission. What has changed since the previous truck was built 20 or more years ago?
- Cab design. How many firefighters will ride the new rig?
- Overall size. Can a smaller unit be just as effective?
- Pump capacity rating. How much water is really available?
- Compartment size and layout. How much “stuff” do we need to take along to cover the various missions?
As needs have changed in recent years, fire apparatus manufacturers have responded to those needs. There are many more options available today for nearly everything fire apparatus-related. To get more compartment space to carry all the “stuff” and keep the overall size of the rig within reason, truck design has seen many changes and many additional options concerning pump location, pump operator’s position location, and pump drive options.
Pumps are the heart of many of today’s fire apparatus, and understanding the various configurations will help fire apparatus committees make informed decisions when specifying a new rig. A new tool is now available from the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA) that provides information on the many pump options available today.
Fire Apparatus Pump Selection Guide
The Fire Apparatus Pump Selection Guide gives the reader information on pump types, pump locations, how pump capacity ratings are determined, and many other aspects of pumping apparatus design. The information covers several topics, including pump drive methods, intake valve types, pump discharge options, and other components critical to safe operation.
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1901, Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus, and NFPA 1906, Standard for Wildland Apparatus, cover minimum standards for new apparatus. Departments should reference them when creating specifications. There are several chapters in the standards that describe minimum requirements for various types of fire apparatus, including pump and plumbing parameters and auxiliary and ultra-high-pressure (UHP) systems. In Canada, the ULC S515 Standard for Automobile Fire Fighting Apparatus is the accepted standard.
The Fire Apparatus Pump Selection Guide delves further into the subject and was the result of a FAMA Technical Committee initiative, specifically of the Pump and Plumbing Subcommittee. The goal of the guide is to provide updated information for fire apparatus committees and fire apparatus dealer sales representatives who may be new to the specification process or have not purchased new apparatus for several years.
The Pump and Plumbing Subcommittee is actively represented by several companies including pump manufacturers, apparatus builders, and component manufacturers that provide many of the pump and plumbing system components to the truck builders. The selection guide is based on the consensus of all subcommittee members and provides an in-depth, generic viewpoint without being brand-specific.
The information includes comparisons of various layouts and options and the pros and cons of each. It provides readers with information on types of valves, instrumentation, plumbing materials, corrosion prevention, single- and multistage pumps, as well as hose and appliance connections.
Accessing the Guide
Departments can find this guide along with many other documents on FAMA’s Web site, www.fama.org. Under the “Fire Service Resources” tab, click the “Resource Library” link. Some of the other current documents that may prove helpful to apparatus specification committees are as follows:
- Fire Apparatus Improvement White Paper: provides an overview of apparatus improvements over the past several years.
- Graphical Symbols: covers those little pictures we see on buttons, switches, and operational screens.
- Weight and Cube Calculator Tool: an easy-to-use spreadsheet that helps you know what will fit on that new rig.
- Specifying Foam Systems: helps readers understand today’s foam system options-a great supplement to the Pump Selection Guide.
Many other topics related to fire apparatus are covered on FAMA’s Web site and have proven valuable to the fire service. And, nearly all of it is free! I encourage you to check it out.
FAMA is committed to the manufacture and sale of safe, efficient emergency response vehicles and equipment. FAMA urges fire departments to evaluate the full range of safety features offered by its member companies.
DOUG MILLER is chairman of the Pump and Plumbing Subcommittee of the FAMA Technical Committee. He has nearly 25 years of service as OEM technical sales manager at Task Force Tips, Inc., and more than 40 years of service with a busy northwest Indiana fire department and is an apparatus purchasing committee member.