ASK ERNIE "The Apparatus Maintenance Expert"

CarolinaFireJournal -

10/22/2013 -

What is the difference between a Waterous pump and a Hale pump?

Differences between the three major pump manufacturers, Hale, Waterous and Darley, are the proprietary means by which they move water or any other liquid or fluid commodity.  All three, as utilized in the fire service, are known as centrifugal pumps. All offer single, two, three or more stage pumps.  Pump capacities range from 20 to 2500 GPM for mobile fire use.  Larger volume pumps are available but rarely utilized or ordered for mobile fire use.  The differences you question are technically few.  The type, style, and brand of pump are usually dictated by the written specification as most desired by the ordering agency.  All agencies can order any brand of pump from any builder since the drop of proprietary pumps in proprietary apparatus.  Some proprietary pump manufacturing and installation is still around but is not common.


Can you still purchase a truck with a standard throttle for the pump panel?

The simple answer is, NO.  To meet EPA mandates, no chassis motor today can meet emissions without the use of highly refined electronics and componentry.  The foot and pump panel throttles are electronic and are connected to the engine ECU/ECM via a three wire connection — fly-by-wire.  The throttle at the pump panel may LOOK like the old standard vernier cable throttle, but behind the pump panel is a translater/control called a throttle position sensor (TPS) which connects electronically to the ECU/ECM.

Is there anything wrong with departments performing their own pump tests?

There is absolutely nothing wrong with department performing their own pump tests.  It is encouraged and NFPA stipulated that all fire pumps be tested annually to NFPA 1911 Standards.  Any qualified person may perform pump testing.  Testing can be performed at a lake, pond, dedicated and clean pit, utilizing one of the many newer designed portable certified above ground test pits or from a hydrant.  The drafting of water from a source should draft at lift levels of not less than three feet or more than 10 feet of lift.  If the use of the pond, lake, or below ground pit is not an option or available in your area, you can have a portable pit brought to your site for testing at your facility.  The NFPA allows for the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) to authorize a means “other than” standard to be utilized for this purpose — the above ground test pit.

Should I have my equipment serviced and inspected semi-annually?

Any and all fire apparatus equipment shall be inspected, tested, and maintained at least annually.  All components of the apparatus MUST be maintained to the component manufacturer’s maintenance standards.  Many of the components of the apparatus, if used regularly and often, may exceed the component manufacturer’s time or mileage parameters prior to the one year standard.  Those items must be served as the manufacturer stipulates.  Some are serviced by a time standard, some by a mileage standard, some by an hour standard.  Always know the mandates of the manufacturer.

How does the new air primer work?

The device creates evacuation of air through the venturi process whereby a large volume of vehicle air passes through an orifice and creates a high negative pressure at an associated port.  The high negative pressure causes atmosphere to “push” water to the low-pressure suction hose to attain draft.

Is there anything I should have members do as preventative maintenance on a weekly basis?

Absolutely.  Go to the manufacturer’s operations manual, the component manufacture’s maintenance manuals, or the NFPA 1911 (2012 edition) and determine what is best for you.  If you go to the back of NFPA 1911, you will find the weekly test/check forms already modeled for you.  You may copy them, or use the criteria on those forms to formulate your own check sheets.  The important part is to perform the checks. 

What is the requirement for a pumper versus a pumper tanker besides amount of water?

What you refer to as a pumper tanker is known in NFPA as a Mobile Water Supply Fire Apparatus and is covered in Chapter 7 of NFPA 1901, 2009 edition.  Any dedicated mobile water supply apparatus must carry a minimum of 1000 gallons.  It must have a minimum of 20 cubic feet of compartment space. It must carry a contingent of fire hose and suction hose.  In the NFPA document is an extensive list of items that must be carried such as hose and nozzles.  If it has a pump, it shall be a minimum of 250 GPM.  The stipulations and criteria for both pumping apparatus and mobile water supply apparatus are extensive and spelled out in NFPA 1901.

I have an older truck and I am thinking about changing all strobes over to LED lights. Would there be advantages to doing this?

Since the advent of reliable LED lighting, strobe lighting has become less and less common in our industry.  The expense of replacing lighting is an issue when retrofitting what you describe as an “older truck.” The benefits abound — especially the need for less amperage to run the lighting, along with better visibility of the lighting, multiple programming modes, interconnectability between light modules, and longevity. If you choose to do the retrofit, do not do it on the cheap. You DO get what you pay for in this type of venture. This is where ‘Ole Uncle Ernie says: “Buy the best, cry once.”

I want to refurbish one of my older engines. Is it cost effective or should we just buy a lower end new truck?

First off, let me give you a big caution.  By NFPA standards, the word “refurbishment” means that you bring the old unit up to 1991 NFPA standards.  That means that you must have a fully enclosed can and a litany of upgrades on your old unit.  However, if you are going out to bid to have the apparatus brought back to original condition through “rebuilding” the apparatus, only you will know if it is cost effective when compared to newer apparatus.  Of prime importance to Uncle Ern is how old is the unit and how long will you be able to obtain critical components to keep it operating whenever it goes down for mechanical repairs?  How reliable will the apparatus be once you have it rebuilt?  Look long and hard at the situation.  If you go to bid, do it right. There is nothing wrong with low bid if you have strong specification criteria that dictates that regardless of the end purchase, all components are the same and the end product will meet your needs and provide a long service life.

 How many manufacturers make there own aerials?

I assume you are asking about the United States? Let’s see ... Pierce Manufacturing, Seagrave, KME (Kovatch), Spartan ERV, E-One, American LaFrance (LTI), Smeal, Rosenbauer/RK and Sutphen.

“Ask Ernie” The ExpertHave A Question About An Issue On Your Truck?Call: 866.761.1292 Ext. 106or E-mail: [email protected]
Comments & Ratings

Daily Fire / EMS News

A collection of Fire / EMS -related news from around the web!

Get Aggregated RSS

View the full Fire - Rescue - EMS News section
for more articles

About the Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal

Welcome to the Carolina Fire Rescue EMS Journal! We want to provide you with timely online information and breaking news that best equips you to meet today’s emergency challenges. Among our firefighting articles, you will find the latest in firefighter technology, firefighter training, leadership development and the newest products and services presented in an “Act Now” user friendly format.  We want to be your best online source for the fire and rescue information, resources and reviews you need.
Regional Impact, National in Scope
  • Delivered free of charge to ALL fire departments, ambulance bays, rescue squads and hazmat teams in North and South Carolina
  • Quarterly circulation includes: fire academies, industry related technical schools and colleges and all major apparatus manufacturers
  • Regional & National trade show distribution
  • Largest circulated regional industry trade publication subscription base