Getting Water Quickly from Point A to Point B

Alan M. Petrillo

Lighter, more compact, faster, and more robust are some of the ways manufacturers describe a variety of hydrant and dump valves designed to get water from a source-whether a hydrant system or a tanker (tender)-into a pump that can apply it in a fire situation.

Addressing Staffing

Rod Carringer, vice president of sales and marketing for Task Force Tips (TFT), believes there is pent-up demand among fire departments for replacing equipment and that the market is loosening up with departments replacing aging valves with new versions.

“We’ve gotten a lot of attention with our Hydrant Master remotely-controlled hydrant valve,” Carringer says. “We’re seeing an upward curve of acceptance where departments are trying to maximize their fire crews, knowing staffing levels won’t get a lot better, both in career and volunteer departments.” TFT’s Hydrant Master, a lightweight, low-friction-loss hydrant valve, is pressure-activated, equipped with a power-save mode, and powered by four AA batteries that provide up to 40 hours of continuous use. A pump operator uses a handheld controller that contains pressure display and valve feedback controls to open or close the Hydrant Master from up to 1,200 feet away.

“Fire chiefs have to ask themselves if the $2,900 list price cost of the Hydrant Master is worth the cost of one key individual waiting at the hydrant for someone to tell him to open or close a valve when that firefighter could be throwing a ladder or pulling hose instead,” Carringer observes.

Carringer points out that the software used to control the Hydrant Master senses the static pressure in the hydrant, determines the data range in which it falls, and then tells the valve to open at an appropriate rate. “We tried to mimic the flow of how a firefighter would open a hydrant,” he says, “and for a hydrant in the 50- to 75-pound-per-square-inch (psi) range, that would be about 15 seconds from closed to fully open,” he says.

TFT also makes the Oasis Hydrant Assist Valve that can be used as a hydrant booster, gated wye, or for inline pumping during relay operations. In a hydrant boosting operation, Carringer says, the valve is first connected to a hydrant and to the intake supply line on the first pumper. After that, inlet and outlet supply lines on a second pumper are connected to the valve to draw water directly from the hydrant connection and increase the pressure and flow to the first pumper. The valve is made of aluminum castings that are hardcoat-anodized inside and out, with a powder coat finish on the outside. Maximum operating pressure of the valve is 250 psi.

(1) The Oasis Hydrant Assist Valve, made by Task Force Tips, can be used as a hydrant booster, gated wye, or for inline pumping during relay operations. (Photo courtesy of Task Force Tips.)

Time Tested

One of the oldest and most widely used hydrant valves on the market is the Humat valve, according to Hurley Matthews, who founded Humat Inc. with partners Bob Hughes and Nick Borst.

The four-way Humat hydrant valve is made of hardcoated, lightweight aluminum alloy with a main chamber interior diameter of 5½ inches, controlled by a butterfly valve with positive locks in both open and closed positions, Matthews says. The valve also has a smaller chamber with a four-inch interior diameter that is controlled by a clapper valve operated automatically by differential pressure.

“The simplicity of the Humat is in its design where there’s only one manual control for complete operation,” Matthews points out. “Once the Humat is attached to a hydrant, a quarter turn on the handle assures full operation of the valve.” He adds that a Humat valve with four-inch and 2½-inch national standard thread (NST) couplings weighs about 34 pounds and will flow in excess of 2,000 gallons per minute (gpm) with only 30 pounds of friction loss at that maximum flow rate.

“We estimate there are nearly 5,000 Humat valves in service around the world,” Matthews says. “Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department has about 65 Humats in service, and we have Humats in the Panama Canal Zone, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and in United States Army and United States Navy bases around the world.”

(2) The Humat valve, made by Humat Inc., promotes its simplicity of operation by only having one manual control. (Photo courtesy of Humat Inc.)

Small and Light

David Durstine, vice president of marketing for Akron Brass Co., says that fire departments most recently have been seeking hydrant valves that are lightweight and more compact.

Akron Brass makes its 2286 gate valve to fit those needs, Durstine says, and because of its compact design, it can be preconnected to large-diameter hose (LDH) to allow easy hoselays. The 2286 valve also can be mounted on a steamer connection, where flow actuation allows the valve to open and close slowly to minimize the potential for sending a large slug of water down the line. Akron Brass also redesigned its Black Max valve designed to be used on a vehicle’s pump inlet.

“It’s a piston intake valve rated for flows up to 2,000 gpm with only seven psi of friction loss,” Durstine says. “And, its design is short enough so when it is connected to the steamer, it doesn’t project outboard of the truck. Black Max has a built-in relief valve that takes away water surges and prevents hose and other component damage from overpressurization.”

Akron Brass also makes a 627 four-way hydrant valve that attaches to a hydrant’s steamer connection, allowing the hydrant to be opened to supply a forward hoselay to the fire scene, Durstine points out. “The second incoming pumper then pulls up to the hydrant; connects to both the inlet and outlet valves; and turns a 90-degree waterway to divert the water to the relay pumper, which boosts pressure back through the valve to the forward hoselay.”

(3) A.H. Stock Manufacturing Corp. makes a 6012 swivel dump valve that can flow up to 2,000 gpm. The 6012, shown here dumping straight off the rear of a tanker, can swivel 90 degrees in each direction. (Photo courtesy of A.H. Stock Manufacturing Corp.)

Tank Operations

For rural and tanker operations, Akron Brass manufactures both manual gear and manual handle butterfly dump valves that can be either electric or air-actuated. “These valves can be used for dump valves or as fill points,” Durstine points out. “They’re simple, reliable, and durable and firefighters can rely on them to work every time.”

Gary Handwerk, engineering manager for Hale Products Inc., says his company makes a side-suction Master Intake Valve (MIV) that works well not only as an LDH control valve but also in portable tank operations. “The MIV has venting and porting at the top that allow a secondary priming control valve to be fitted, so when the valve is ready to make the transition to a portable tank, you never lose the prime on the valve,” Handwerk says.

The Hale MIV often is located at the main suction inlet on a pump, Handwerk points out. “We’ve had pumpers and tankers with as many as five Master Intake Valves placed at different locations where they might have to use a portable tank,” he says.

A.H. Stock’s 1010 series plunger style dump valve had its beginnings in 1970 when Dave Stock’s father and grandfather built the valve to move water from a cow tank on the back of a pickup truck to a portable tank. Stock is the current owner of A.H. Stock Manufacturing Corp.

“Other departments saw our valve, we built a couple more, and then it really took off,” Stock says. “After that, we came up with the 1050 series Newton Kwik-Dump Valve, a gate style that flips out of the way and flows water quicker.” The model 1050 can dump more than 3,500 gpm under ideal conditions, Stock says. It’s a 10- by 10- by 24-inch valve and is constructed so all parts constantly in contact with water are stainless steel, brass, or rubber.

(4) The 627 Four-Way Hydrant Valve, made by Akron Brass, attaches to a hydrant’s steamer connection, allowing the hydrant to be opened to supply a forward hoselay. (Photo courtesy of Akron Brass.)

Stock notes that his company recently came out with the Newton Swivel, which can be connected to a dump valve on the back of a tanker, allowing the water to be dumped either straight off the back or to either side of the vehicle.

The current 6000 series allows for 1,000-gpm flow through the swivel, but Stock says that by the end of this year the 6012 series will be available that can flow 2,000 gpm. “In addition, we’re automating the valve so you can operate the swivel and dump valve remotely from the cab,” Stock says. “The controls will be hard-wired at first, but we’re also testing a wireless remote control dump valve with simple ‘open’ and ‘close’ buttons.”

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