Truck-mounted pump monster

Published:  06 February, 2015

Vehicle manufacturer teams up with pump specialist to create an industrial fire truck that can pump at over 7,500 GPM. A new record?

The key to tackling major blazes at industrial complexes is often the ability to bring large volumes of water to bear as quickly as possible. That means a high-capacity truck-mounted fire pump may have to be deployed – the Florida-based US Fire Pump (USFP) has come up with what it says is the largest one of its type in  the world.

The new engine-driven USFP High Velocity Pump (HVP) is designed to meet the requirements of the NFPA 1901 standard at 6,000 GPM (US gallons per minute) or more. But according to the manufacturer, with sufficient engine power and enough water from a hydrant the performance will exceed 7,500 GPM.

The pump has a wide operating range and can maintain over 5,000 GPM at 150 PSI, over 4,000 GPM at 175 PSI and over 3,000 GPM at 200 PSI.

Ferrara Fire Apparatus of Holden, Louisiana, has become the first company to install the pump on its industrial fire trucks. It is being offered as an option under an exclusive agreement, as Vice President and Director of International Sales, Mark A Coley, explained: ‘I guess you'd say we've become a dealer for them and that means we're offering a product that will change the industrial fire truck market. Its capacity means that you need less equipment to do the same kind of work and the agreement will certainly give us a boost in the industrial sector; a sector we've been working hard in for many years.

‘What it means is that we'll be able to offer the strongest, biggest and most capable industrial fire truck in the world. It's something that's been needed for a long time.

‘A typical fire truck has a capability of 3,000 GPM and you can maybe get that up to 4,000 GPM to 4,500 GPM if you're getting water from a pressurised source. The product we're talking about however allows you to go up to 8,000 GPM if a pressurised source is involved.

‘So let's say you've got an industrial fire station with six trucks, each with a 3,000 GPM capability. If you've got this product you may be able to reduce this to three trucks and save money and manpower,’ said Mark.

Capital expenditure, maintenance costs and the wages bill will all come down but the fire station's capability will remain the same. ‘Fewer lives are put at risk too because you end up with fewer people on the fire ground,’ he pointed out.

Risk is further lessened because the USFP HVP can be operated remotely if required. ‘It is also worth noting that while most pumps run at an efficiency level approaching or just above 70%, this one operates at 80%,’ Mark added.

Furthermore, because of its higher efficiency the USFP HVP can make use of the same fire truck engine, transmission and radiator as a less-powerful pump with no loss of performance. They do not need modifying or changing; nor do the axles or the chassis.

‘The same 600hp engine that drives a 3,000-plus GPM pump can drive this pump too,’ he said. ‘It can be dropped straight into a Ferrara chassis without any problem, the only differences being that the plumbing needed is larger than it is with a standard pump and the HVP weighs more.’

The extra burden is, however, less than 1,000lb (450kg), ‘It's not that big a number to overcome,’ said Mark.

The HVP can be mounted on a trailer or a skid unit instead of a truck chassis, as long as it has access to sufficient horsepower and can potentially be electrically driven. ‘It has been tested at a refinery in Louisiana and it's been well received. Its volume capabilities mean that it can extinguish an oil tank fire with the correct mixture of foam.’

With the correct attachments it could also be used to create a high-pressure water mist to cool pipes and gauges and take down poisonous clouds.

As well as in refineries the new pump could find a place in open-cast mines or in nuclear power stations. ‘It can be used to help cool reactors if the need ever arises.’

Aside from the USA and Australia, potential markets include China (‘There are a number of NFPA-style pumps in operation there’) and South America. ‘It's slowly adopting the NFPA standard but customers there still buy European-style fire trucks too so it's a bit torn between the two,’ he commented.

‘Africa is in the same situation. It has a little bit of both but customers there are starting to move more and more towards the NFPA arrangement, especially in South Africa.’

Designed for use with engines with an output of up to 700hp and with a single-piece pump shaft made of heat-treated stainless steel, the HVP features a 12ins (305mm) flanged suction inlet. It feeds an impeller eye which exceeds 10ins (254mm) in diameter with an 8ins (203mm) discharge outlet.

The suction inlet has built-in pre-rotation baffles and is over-sized to compensate for the baffles area.

The HVP's auxiliary drive output can power hydraulic equipment used to drive large foam systems or a flanged output to drive air compressors.

Options include bronze construction for the pump.

US Fire Pump boasts over 190 years of experience in design, engineering, manufacturing, marketing and purchasing in its sector of industry.

It is spearheaded by Gary Handwerk, a pump industry leader for well over 40 years who has worked for major pump and fire apparatus manufacturers, developed new products and visited upwards of 240 customers globally. He has done work for the NFPA Fire Apparatus Committee for over 20 years.

With its roots in the late 1970s, Ferrara Fire Apparatus custom-builds a complete range of heavy-duty fire, emergency and rescue vehicles. The chassis line-up includes the Ultra, Inferno, Igniter and Cinder while other products include incident command trucks and trailers and rear- and mid-mount aerial ladders and platforms .

Ferrara is able to offer everything from independent front suspension to complete airbag protection for the crew and cab and body ECE-29 crash testing.

Recent US orders include a contract to build an additional 12 100ft (30.5m) aerial ladders for the FDNY (Fire Department of New York) based on the Ultra.

Each of the chassis is being fitted with a stainless steel body, a split cab made from the same material and an 8kW hydraulic generator. On completion the contract will bring the number of 100ft Ferrara ladders in service in the city to 71.

Municipal fire departments can make use of the HVP said Mark although it might be a little bit too big for their fire trucks. ‘The majority of them tend to have a capacity of 1,250 GPM to 1,500 GPM with some going up to 2,000 GPM,’ he said.

Departments can still employ it as a relay pump: ‘It could be ideal in that role if massive amounts of water are involved.’ And not solely to tackle blazes: it could also be used to pump away large quantities of flood water quickly, useful in countries periodically hit by flooding; from Zambia to the United Kingdom.

  • Operation Florian

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