Industrial Facility Protection Calls for High Flows and Foam Capacity

Alan M. Petrillo

Fire departments and fire brigades in industrial facilities around the country face the prospect of protecting huge complexes and having the proper resources available to fight fires in large, high-hazard facilities. Refineries, tank farms, chemical plants, and other big industrial sites share a common need in what they seek from apparatus manufacturers-the ability to flow a lot of water, quickly, with a lot of reach.

This custom industrial pumper was built by E-ONE for the Yanpet Fire Department in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
(1) This custom industrial pumper was built by E-ONE for the Yanpet
Fire Department in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It has a 3,000-gpm pump, a
1,030-gallon foam tank, a 500-gallon water tank, a 2,000- to
5,000-gpm deck gun, two rear deck guns capable of 2,000 gpm each, a
2,000-pound dry chemical system, and a ultra-high-pressure (UHP)
(Photo courtesy of E-ONE.)

Higher-Flow Waterways

Chad Trinkner, Pierce Manufacturing’s director of product development for aerials, pumpers, and fire suppression, says Pierce has seen an increase in requests for elevated waterways that can handle a high water flow. “Refineries and other industrial customers are looking for up to 4,000-gallon-per-minute (gpm) waterways,” Trinkner says. “They want to protect silo-like structures and need to elevate in order to put up a foam wall to protect such exposures.”

But, higher waterway flows mean bigger reaction forces, Trinkner points out, which can threaten the stability of an aerial. “We’re in the process of building two models, a 75-foot and a 53-foot version that have a 4,000-gpm waterway but still maintain the stability of the aerial,” he says.

Jim Salmi, senior director of global aerial products for Spartan ERV, agrees that big flow volumes are driving industrial apparatus purchases. “The typical need is to get very large flow volumes going, especially to provide protection in the case of tank fires,” Salmi says. “These units have to establish a large flow of foam solution, usually out of a 2,000- to 3,000-gpm elevated master stream appliance.”

Refineries have large water supplies and good residual pressure, Salmi maintains, which allow them to get very good fire stream flows. He notes that Spartan ERV has upsized the waterways on its industrial aerials to reduce the amount of friction loss in the system. “On a 100-foot platform, we normally would have a five-inch outside diameter waterway, but with an industrial aerial, we use a six-inch outside diameter waterway, which means it [has a] 5¾-inch inside diameter,” he says. “We wanted to reduce restrictions to the flow, which largely are based on the speed of the water-foam solution going through the system.”

Salmi notes that a large number of industrial customers prefer an aerial platform to an aerial ladder “because a platform has greater strength to handle large water flows and you can get dual monitors on a platform, while ladders only carry single guns.”

Brad Williamson, industrial products manager for Ferrara Fire Apparatus, says that although his company has produced quite a few industrial aerials-both platforms and ladders-it is starting to push an articulating concept aerial device. “It’s a three-section 85-foot articulating boom that has an eight-inch waterway that reduces to six inches on the swivel knuckles for each section,” he says. “It carries a Williams Fire & Hazard Control Ranger Three-Plus 4,000-gpm monitor and gives unrestricted flow no matter where the boom is positioned.”

Chuck Glagola, aerial product specialist for Smeal Fire Apparatus Co., says Smeal recently delivered two aerial ladder platforms-a 100- and an 85-foot-to BP of Alaska. Both aerials are powered by 500-horsepower Cummins ISX 15 diesel engines and Allison 4000 EVS transmissions and carry Hale stainless steel Q-MAX 2,000-gpm pumps and National Foam Servo Command foam modules with all discharges being foam-capable at six percent foam. The 100-foot aerial carries dual monitors capable of 2,000 gpm, and the 85-foot aerial carries one of them.

Glagola notes that Smeal is exploring the possibility of new platform designs for industrial applications. “On industrial aerial devices, they either are looking for large volumes and flows of water or rescue capabilities,” he says. “Except for rescue, they don’t usually put people in the basket, so we’re looking at a smaller basket that wouldn’t be as cumbersome in getting around obstacles.”

Smeal Fire Apparatus produced this industrial 100-foot rear-mount aerial platform for BP Exploration Inc., in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska
(2) Smeal Fire Apparatus produced this industrial 100-foot
rear-mount aerial platform for BP Exploration Inc., in Prudhoe Bay,
Alaska. The unit carries a Hale Q-MAX 2,000-gpm pump, a National
Foam Servo Command foam module, and two monitors each
capable of 2,000 gpm. (Photo courtesy of Smeal Fire

Flow and Foam Capacity

Terry Planck, industrial sales manager for E-ONE, says sales of industrial aerials have picked up in the past year. “Platform orders are the typical ones, usually 100-foot aerial platforms,” Planck says. “Usually they are all-foam vehicles and don’t carry a water tank.”

Planck notes that industrial aerial ladders usually don’t carry the complement of ground ladders that would be found on a municipal aerial. “That allows us to have a little bit bigger foam tank, say 700 gallons instead of 300,” he says. “Also, industrial aerials get larger waterways so we can get a flow of 2,000 gpm through them. At the tip, we’ll usually put two 2,000-gpm monitors from Task Force Tips, Akron Brass, or Elkhart Brass.”

Dave Rider, North American sales manager for Sutphen Corp., says with industrial aerial devices, “It’s all about the flow. You have to have an extremely strong box boom design and stick an eight-inch waterway on it so you can flow 4,500 gpm.”

Rider says Sutphen’s niche in the industrial market is for its 110-foot ladder. “Our 110-foot has four outriggers instead of two, so it has a bigger footprint for greater stability,” he points out. “And when you flow more than 2,500 gpm through the waterway, the boom retracts to 100 feet, so there’s more overlap on the aerial sections.”

Industrial aerials typically are carrying 800- to 1,000-gallon foam tanks, Rider adds, “and then they bring in a tender once they go through their tank foam.”

Many of Sutphen’s industrial aerials are set up for rope rescue and confined space operations, Rider notes, typically with seven anchor points on the vehicle’s body and one anchor point on the boom. And besides always plumbing breathing air to the turntable, Rider says Sutphen sometimes plumbs it to the pump panel.

The National Foam Servo Command foam module on Smeal's industrial 100-foot aerial platform
(3) The National Foam Servo Command foam module on Smeal’s
industrial 100-foot aerial platform for BP Exploration can supply all
the rig’s discharges with six percent foam. (Photo courtesy of
Smeal Fire Apparatus.)

Industrial Pumpers

Trinkner points out that his company has supplied more pumpers for industrial use than aerials. “Pumpers are easier to navigate through these facilities and have the capability to carry and apply large amounts of foam,” he says. “It’s not unusual for an industrial pumper to have a 1,000-gallon or more foam tank.”

The maneuverability issue is often critical in refineries and chemical plants, so Pierce has been working to tighten turning radiuses by increasing the cramp angle of a vehicle. “We also look for ways to integrate the foam tank better to produce as short a body as possible,” he says, “and to shorten up the pump houses.”

Salmi says Spartan ERV recently built an industrial pumper for a Pasadena, California, oil refinery. “The pumper has a big foam proportioning system, a 78-inch-wide pump module, a Hale 8FG 3,000-gpm pump, and a 1,000-gallon foam tank and carries 1,500 feet of five-inch large-diameter hose (LDH) and 1,500 feet of three-inch hose divided into several beds,” Salmi points out. Spartan ERV also has produced rear-mount pumpers carrying dry chemical along with foam on commercial chassis for industrial customers.

Smeal also is building a custom side-mount industrial pumper for BP of Alaska with a Hale Q-MAX 2,000-gpm pump, a 2,000-gallon water tank, a 500-gallon foam tank, and a National Foam Servo Command foam module.

Williamson notes that Ferrara’s main thrust in the industrial market has been in pumpers, tanker-pumpers, and foam tenders. “With pumpers, we’ve seen a large increase in the desire to put a split tank on the vehicle for both foam and water,” he says. “Typically it’s about a 300- to 500-gallon water tank with about a 500- to 1,000-gallon foam tank.”

He adds that the benefit of a split tank arrangement is that the units are as staffing-efficient as possible. “Many industrial departments run their apparatus in multiple response modes like municipal fire departments,” Williamson says. “They’re not only foam pumpers anymore, because refineries, chemical plants, and nuclear facilities also have the potential for structure, vehicle, and dumpster fires. So, they want apparatus that can handle those types of fires too.”

Sutphen Corp. built this 110-foot midmount industrial aerial ladder for Conoco Phillips Wood River Refinery
(4) Sutphen Corp. built this 110-foot midmount industrial aerial
ladder for Conoco Phillips Wood River Refinery with a Hale 8FG
3,000-gpm pump, a 4,500-gpm aerial waterway, and an Akron
Renegade monitor at the tip. (Photo courtesy of Sutphen Corp.)

Variable Industrial Specs

Phil Gerace, director of sales and marketing for KME, says his company has industrial customers around the world and that there is no single specification that seems to be an industrial spec. “Some locations are looking for in-plant protection and consequently are looking for skid units, minipumpers, and low-profile commercial Class A pumpers with some foam capability for use in the manufacturing plants,” Gerace says. “Other locations are looking for pumpers with 2,000-gpm systems with both foam and water capabilities.”

Yet, he notes, “Almost all industrial vehicles are equipped with high-capacity foam systems or appliances. Those systems may take water from an overboard pressurized source or they may have an onboard high-capacity foam system, such as a 3,000-gpm system.”

Gerace points out that the most frequent requests KME has had of late have been for industrial foam tenders with both water and foam (for example, 1,000 gallons of water and 1,000 gallons of foam) and all foam units with 2,000- to 4,000-gallon foam tanks. He adds that KME’s 102-foot AerialCat platform also is popular for industrial use, carrying a 3,000-gpm waterway and dual monitors that allow aerial firefighting with a variety of foam systems.

Planck says E-ONE’s industrial pumper business has been split between large and small facilities. “A lot of the custom pumpers use the big gun from Williams Fire & Hazard Control-the Ambassador 2 by 6 (2,000-gpm to 6,000-gpm) semi-fixed nozzle,” he points out. “But there are smaller plants where the customers are buying commercial vehicles on International 7600 or Freightliner M2 chassis, especially along the Gulf Coast region. Usually they’ll carry a 1,500- to 2,000-gpm pump and a monitor from 1,500 to 2,000 gpm.

Planck adds that for some industrial customers, E-ONE has built enclosed top-mount pumpers. “We’ve sent them to customers who experience the extreme cold in Canada and also the extreme heat for a Saudi Arabian customer.

Scott Oyen, vice president of sales for Rosenbauer, says most of the industrial pumpers Rosenbauer builds are for refinery- and petroleum-type operations. “A lot of them are oversized pumpers, often with a 3,000-gpm pump and carrying a 500-gallon foam tank or more and maybe a 200-gallon water tank,” Oyen says. “With the huge hydrant mains most refineries have, the pump on these pumpers becomes a manifold where they set up for a 5,000-gpm operation to push water and foam out through the deck gun.”

Most of the industrial pumpers Rosenbauer builds have been single-axle versions, including a pumper-tanker on a single axle carrying a 1,500-gallon foam tank, according to Oyen. “Some of these units can pump for days,” he observes. “They nurse them with a foam tender or trailer or bring foam in on a railcar and pump through a pipeline.”

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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