Portable Pumps Get Wide Use Among Wildland Firefighters

Al Petrillo looks at portable pumps and the wildland firefighters who use them.
Wildland firefighters don’t often have the luxury of having an engine near at hand as a water source to deal with a wildland fire. In such cases, firefighters turn to portable pumps and lengthy hoselays to apply water.

Pump manufacturers are attuned to the specific needs of wildland firefighters and are producing portable pump models that firefighters can use to accomplish their mission.

Jason Darley, North American sales manager for W.S. Darley & Company’s pump division, says Darley makes several models of portable pumps that are used by wildland firefighters, including the 2BE 13V twin portable pump, the 2BE 18VX, and the HE 23 Vanguard portable pump. The 2BE 13V Twin is a medium-pressure, high-volume, direct-drive, engine-mounted pump that has four handles at its base that rotate through 180 degrees for a portable carry, Darley points out. Powered by a 13-horsepower (hp) Briggs & Stratton Vanguard gasoline engine, the 2BE 13V delivers 300 gallons per minute (gpm) at 15 pounds per square inch (psi), 150 gpm at 75 psi, and 80 gpm at 100 psi.

 W.S. Darley & Co. makes the 2BE 21-H portable pump used by wildland crews, a 2BE water pump with a Briggs & Stratton 21-hp Vanguard gasoline engine. Note the carrying handles that swivel through 180 degrees for ease in maneuvering. (Photo courtesy of W.S. Darley & Co.)

 The Porpoise™ floating pump, made by Darley, couples a 190-cc Briggs & Stratton Professional Series engine with a Darley 2BE water pump to supply either fire suppression or tank fill operations. (Photo courtesy of W.S. Darley & Co.)

The 2BE18VX is Darley’s low-cost portable pump that combines an 18-hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine with the 2BE water pump, Darley says. The pump has a bronze impeller, mechanical seal, discharge pressure gauge, 3-gallon portable or engine-mounted fuel tank, and skid base.

Darley’s HE Vanguard portable pump is a medium-pressure, high-volume unit powered by a 4-cycle, 23-hp, V-twin Briggs & Stratton Vanguard gasoline engine that delivers 535 gpm at 20 psi, 300 gpm at 60 psi, and 100 gpm at 70 psi. Darley also makes the Porpoise™ floating pump that couples a 190-cubic-centimeter (cc) Briggs & Stratton Professional Series engine with a Darley 2BE water pump to provide nearly 300 gpm at 7 psi for tank fill applications or up to 100 gpm at almost 40 psi for fire suppression.

Jeff Van Meter, pumps product manager for Hale Products Inc., says Hale makes both gasoline- and diesel-powered portable pumps in high-pressure and high-flow models as well as floating pumps for wildland use. “The most common Hale portable pump used in wildland firefighting is our PowerFlow HPX75-B18,” Van Meter notes, “that’s powered by an 18-hp 4-cycle V-twin Briggs & Stratton gasoline engine.”

 Hale Products Inc. makes the HPX75-K24 portable pump powered by a 24-hp Kubota diesel engine. (Photo courtesy of Hale Products Inc.)

 The HPX200-B18 portable pump made by Hale Products is powered by a Briggs & Stratton 18-hp gasoline engine that can deliver 200 gpm at 75 psi. (Photo courtesy of Hale Products Inc.)

The portable pump has an anodized aluminum alloy pump head and body, a bronze impeller and renewable wear ring, and a self-adjusting mechanical seal. He adds the pump can deliver 15 gpm at 325 psi, 70 gpm at 150 psi, 135 gpm at 50 psi, and 250 gpm at 30 psi.

Van Meter says that Hale also makes the HPX200-KB24 portable pump powered by a 24-hp Kubota diesel engine that delivers 100 gpm at 150 psi and 250 gpm at 50 psi, as well as versions that will deliver 75, 200, 300, or 400 gpm.

Hale’s floating pumps include the Fyr Flote in both pressure and volume models with the pressure version having flows ranging from 10 gpm at 160 psi to 70 gpm at 40 psi and the volume model flowing 20 gpm at 120 psi to 135 gpm at 30 psi. Hale also makes the Fyr Pak, a 34-pound portable centrifugal pump mounted on a padded adjustable backpack frame that will deliver discharge pressures of up to 220 psi and flows to 75 gpm from draft.

Zach Grigg, product specialist for WATERAX, says the company has been making the MARK-3® portable high-pressure fire pump that’s been used in wildland firefighting for more than 50 years. “It’s a very durable pump that can push water a very long way,” Grigg observes. “ It features a two-stroke engine that runs on all sorts of angles, unlike a four-stroke engine. It weighs 58 pounds so it can be carried by a single person and has a four-stage pump end that’s durable and allows small debris to pass through so it doesn’t clog easily.”

Grigg adds that the MARK-3 has a mechanical rotary seal and sealed greaseless bearing in the pump end that remove the need for maintenance in the field. The MARK-3 has a 2-inch intake and a 1½-inch discharge and can flow up to 98 gpm with a shutoff pressure of 380 psi.

 WATERAX makes the MARK-3® portable high-pressure fire pump used in wildland firefighting that weighs 58 pounds, has a 2-inch intake, has a 1½-inch discharge, and can flow up to 98 gpm. (Photo courtesy of WATERAX.)

 The MINI-STRIKER® lightweight portable pump made by WATERAX is a single-stage pump weighing 19 pounds that can flow 80 gpm at 85 psi. (Photo courtesy of WATERAX.)

WATERAX also makes the MINI-STRIKER® lightweight portable pump, which Grigg says is the company’s smallest portable pump at 19 pounds. “It’s a top performer for initial attack,” he notes. “It’s a single-stage pump with a heat-resistant rotary seal and sealed greaseless bearings, powered by a four-stroke Honda engine that can flow 80 gpm at 85 psi. The MINI-STRIKER has a 1½-inch intake, a 1½-inch discharge, an integrated fuel tank, and a carry handle on top.” WATERAX also makes the BB-4® high-pressure fire pump in a two-person portable version that will deliver 106 gpm at 440 psi.

Jerry Halpin, vice president of sales and marketing for CET Fire Pumps, says portable pumps of 20 hp or less are most often used in wildland fire environments because of their size and how much they weigh. “The portable pump has to be manageable by one or two people,” Halpin observes. “CET makes models in 6 hp, 9 hp, 10 hp, 11 hp, 18 hp, and 20 hp that are used in wildland firefighting and predominantly are gasoline powered.” He says the smallest and lightest pump in CET’s lineup is the PFP-2hp-HND-M, a direct-drive, single-stage centrifugal pump with an aluminum alloy body, aluminum impeller, and mechanical seal shaft that’s powered by a GXH50 Honda air-cooled, single-cylinder, 4-stroke gasoline engine.

CET also makes the PFP-9hpHND-EM-Twin Goliath model dual-stage, centrifugal portable pump powered by an electric-start 9-hp Honda single-cylinder gasoline engine and the PFP-6hpHND-EM-Twin dual-stage centrifugal portable pump powered by a 6.5-hp Honda single-cylinder, air-cooled engine with electric start that weighs 60 pounds.

Halpin notes that CET makes two floating pump models, the 64-pound PFP-6hp-FL, which has a CET single-stage, centrifugal pump powered by a 179-cc air-cooled Kawasaki engine and needs only one inch of water to operate, and the PFP-13hpHND-FL, a 120-pound model powered by a 13-hp Honda air-cooled gasoline engine.

Gregg Geske, director of sales and marketing for Waterous, says his company makes several models of portable pumps used in wildland firefighting. “Our PB18 series features four portable pump models, each equipped with a Briggs & Stratton 18-hp V-Twin gasoline engine and available with no base or rail base option.”

Geske says the units have 3-gallon fuel tanks and give maximum flows from 75 gpm at 190 psi to 250 gpm at 25 psi and maximum pressures from 20 gpm at 320 psi to 150 gpm at 100 psi.

Waterous also makes the E501-C/E511-C series motor pumps specifically designed for mounting on specialized attack vehicles. Equipped with a Kubota 899-cc diesel engine and a Waterous fire pump, the E501 gives a maximum flow of 110 gpm at 100 psi and a maximum pressure of 50 gpm at 400 psi, while the E511 delivers a maximum flow of 275 gpm at 50 psi and a maximum pressure of 100 gpm at 190 psi.

Jamie Emblem, Northeast region salesman for Mercedes Textiles Ltd., says Mercedes Textiles makes the Wick® 100-4H and Wick 100G fire pumps that can be used as portable or fixed unit pumps in wildland scenarios. Emblem says the Wick 100-4H has a detachable, single-stage, foam-compatible pump powered by a 50-cc 4-stroke Honda gasoline engine. “This pump has the option of being transported by a backpack, as does its sister pump, the same pump with a 2-stroke engine that weighs only 17 pounds,” Emblem notes.

 Mercedes Textiles Ltd. makes the Wick Si 300-10B portable pump powered by a 10-hp Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine. (Photo courtesy of Mercedes Textiles Ltd.)

 The Wick 100G has a detachable, single-stage, foam-compatible pump coupled with a 2.4-hp/42-cc Solo two-stroke engine and is designed for fire attack and penetrating fuels on the ground. (Photo courtesy of Mercedes Textiles Ltd.)

The Wick 100G uses the same single-stage pump end, coupled with a 2.4-hp/42-cc Solo 2-stroke engine, and is designed for fire attack and penetrating fuels on the ground, Emblem says. Mercedes Textiles also makes the Wick Si 250-7S portable three-stage, high-pressure fire pump powered by an 8-hp 2-stroke gasoline engine; the Wick Si 300-10B, powered by a 10-hp 4-stroke Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine; and the Wick FT-200-4B portable floating high-pressure fire pump that features molded carrying handles on the front, rear, and sides for easy transport.


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.

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