Tools to pump from static-water supplies

Getting water from a static source to an apparatus is a critical component of rural firefighting; here's the drafting equipment you'll need


Obtaining a water supply for fire suppression from a static source like a lake, stream, or pond has always been a cornerstone of rural water supply. Not that it's always been easy. But a new generation of hard suction hose and appliances are making this crucial rural water supply task much easier.

Perhaps a better term for hard suction hose would be non-collapsing hose. Hose manufacturers are employing new materials like latex, along with new construction techniques and couplings, to create a suction hose that has greater flexibility that makes it easier for firefighters to use.  

All fire hose on the market today should comply with the requirements of NFPA 1961: Standard for Fire Hose, 2013 edition. Here are the predominant types of hard suction hose on the market today.

Conventional hard-rubber, wire-reinforced
This hose comes in 41/2- to 6-inch diameters and 10-foot lengths. It is typical of the hard suction hose that firefighters have been using for drafting operations for years. Some of the notable improvements to this old standby include:

  • Outer jackets — the cover and tube made with synthetic EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer (M-class) rubber.
  • Linings that have wire helix and nylon fabric reinforcement.
  • Soft cuff ends for greater coupling retention.

Corrugated conventional hard-rubber, wire-reinforced
These, too, come in diameters of 41/2 to 6 inches and lengths of 10 feet. One of the first improvements to hard suction hose years ago was the use of corrugated construction of the outer jacket to improve the hose's flexibility.

Today's corrugated hard suction hose incorporates the same newer synthetic materials for the outer jack as the previously described hard suction hose. Newer alloyed metals and carbon fiber materials are used for the helix that gives the hose its spiraling effect, which gives this hose even greater flexibility than its corrugated predecessors.

Corrugated PVC  
Like the others, this hose comes in 10-foot lengths, but its diameters range from 3 to 6 inches. And it really takes the "hard" out of hard suction hose. 

In 1986, FireEquip introduced the original lightweight suction-only hose constructed using PVC. The corrugated PVC exterior provides improved flexibility and a smoother waterway when compared with ordinary corrugated hard suction hose. 

The clear flexible PVC between the helix ribs gives the operator a full view of water flowing through the hose. Extended exposure of the hose to direct sunlight needs to be avoided to minimize potential for PVC degradation.   

Couplings and appliances
Hose and coupling manufacturers now provide several coupling options beyond the traditional threaded couplings. Those options include rocker lug, long handled, folding handle, Storz and folding-handle Storz.

More fire departments are upgrading their on-site water storage capabilities using the newer more compact, self-supporting collapsible relay tanks. When using these types of portable ponds it becomes necessary to support the hard suction hose while drafting.

FireTak's lightweight, fully adjustable stand provides a quick hose support and, when not in use, is small enough to pack along with the relay tank in its carrying case.

The Float Dock strainer enables the user to access static water supplies in farm ponds or streams, both shallow and deep. Because it operates below scum and debris and above sand and muck, it screens out the materials that wear out a pump's impellers, packing and bearings. The Float Dock strainer is self-leveling so there are no whirlpools or suction loss.

The Low Flow Low-Level (LFLL) strainer will perform at maximum pumping capacity down to a water level of 1.5 to 2 inches depending on the set up area. Flow testing of the 6-inch model has yielded flow rates of 1,700 to 2,000 gpm. Individual flow rates may vary due to the pumper design and the set up area for the pumper and portable tank.

Ice breaker
The Kochek self-leveling floating strainer attaches to the end of a hard suction or PVC hose to prevent debris from entering the hose or the pump when drawing water from a pond or other body of water.

For those departments that operate in the colder climates where the static water supplies freeze over, another Kochek strainer may come in handy.

The long-handle ice strainer attaches to the end of a suction hose, and then makes a 90-degree turn that allows the insertion of the intake end of the strainer into a hole in the ice. This prevents debris from entering the hose or the pump and keeps the strainer below the level of the ice.

The Fol-Da-Tank's Water Shark is a sidewall, low-level strainer designed to work "thru the wall" of a dump tank, that is it fits into the existing dump chute of most rigid-frame portable water tanks — both aluminum square frame or round steel frame. 

Firefighters can quickly attach the Shark using its custom-designed cam lever clamp band. The Water Shark increases the overall efficiency and flow of the system while providing free access around the outside of the dump tank. The 8-inch check valve provides 100 percent flow for 6-inch suction and holds water in the hose during change over.

Multi-tank operations
The power jet siphon is designed for use with two or more portable tanks. The siphon connects to a hard suction hose and allows for the connection of a 1½- or 1¾-inch hose line to assist the transfer of water from one tank to another. This keeps the main tank full for drafting as the secondary tank is refilled. 

The in-line power jet siphon is designed for use with two or more portable tanks, especially when the tanks are not close together. Simply place the siphon between two hard suction hoses, attach a 1½- or 1¾-inch hose line to the siphon to assist in water transfer from one tank to another. It also can be used in ponds, creeks or lakes to help transfer water to tankers and pumpers.

The clapper valve is specifically designed to maintain the prime between a pumper and a low-level or floating strainer. The valve is placed between the strainer and the hard suction hose attached to the drafting apparatus. 

When the water pressure being exerted from the tank side of the valve become less than the backpressure from the pumper side of the valve, the valve closes to maintain the pumps prime until the tank is refilled. The valve does not have a negative affect on the gpm flow from the tank to the pump.

Are there any other hard suction appliances or devices that you know about? If so, leave a comment and share with us and your colleagues on the FireRescue1 network.

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