Jump to content

Is Pumping Becoming Harder Than It Needs to be?

Recommended Posts

Discussion the other night raised a valid topic, is the pump bay becoming too reliant on technology for something that is very simple in theory?

At the end of the day you want to be able to pump and get water to where you need it but recently a batch of new appliances around here has had issue due to the computer crashing and failing to deliver water.  What is wrong with just simple values and levers?

Does it all need to be computerised?  I was pumping using a 1995 x LFB Volvo on Thursday night, only got to knock the PTO in and open the tank and I've got water.  Everything is manual levers and nothing electronic at the pump end.

Now some on here may only have ever known a computer based pump but there will be plenty that know pumps and levers.  Thoughts...

Link to comment

Like all things in life, technology moves on and so does the ability to add this technology to pumping appliances. However, the basics of pumping have not changed and never will.

I think what has been lost, and this is no disrespect to the newer firefighters, is the ability to pump without the flow meters and use the methods we have used for years. My concern would be, do the newer end of firefighters know what to do when the technology fails. I was taught to pump based on feel of hoses and engine noise as well as simple vacuum and pressure gauges etc. Its a little more detailed now with flow rates and optimum water supply for particular branches.

I was at a training meeting the other day and GMFRS instructors and all watch officers have been asked to improve the Math element of firefighting with a new firefighters with pumping being a good element to use. 

Link to comment

I know the basics of pumping haven't changed and never will but is so much technology required for getting water?

For years computers never existed and everyone managed just right so why add an extra step into something that can be so simple with just a few levers and gauges.

Noise and feel is how I've always used a pump too for what work I do with them, maybe I'm just old school and don't see the point of over complicating things, yes we live in a world of technology but its not always needed.

Not sure what training is like these days but are skills from back in the day still taught i.e. for pumping?

Link to comment

There were and are alot of scare stories about electronic pumps failing and screens going kaput mid job. I'm sure there is substance to some of them but just as many work as intended.

Our kent Ivecos have a electronic screen for gauges and have pre set pressures for deliverys and hosereels. They are constantly compensating for opening and closing branches and sound like they are about to break even though they are working fine.

Smaller crews and a busier pump operator was definitely a factor in us getting them rather than just for its own sake.

I'd say most trainees are still trained on analog pumps with no flow meters or electronics. Once you know the basics the additional stuff is just a nuance you get used to.

On a side note, Surrey have an auto-fill gizmo attached to the tank fill valve so you can plug it into the hydrant and leave it to top up the tank by itself. Not something we have at all in Kent and strikes me as a pretty useful bit of technology.

Link to comment

Unless you're working with a LPP, where everything is still mechanical, we're stuck with the technology whether you like it or not. Main reason is everything on a modern truck and indeed your car, is controlled by electronics. Long gone are the days when the accelerator was connected directly to the throttle by a cable (not the electrical type). Now its all controlled by the computer brain so the pump controls have to connect into that as well.

Pump technology has also come on to. Remember testing the pump on one of our last manual appliances before putting it on the run and to get a reasonable jet out of the hosereel at around 20 bar, the engine was screaming its head off as it bounced off the rev limiter and the vibrations coming from the pump made you think it was going to self destruct. Now with an appliance similar to that described by OscarTango, its a case of pushing a couple of buttons and for the same jet, the engine isn't much above tick over.

Link to comment

Pump technology has changed over the years, I like the modern pumps but learned on the older ones , I think that you need to understand the basics and then move from that position, most modern pumps are not designed to take pressure fed supply into the eye of the pump, it works far better using the static-supply and therefor eliminates having to compensate for incoming fluctuations, that could have disastrous effects on the branch operator. @OscarTango..hence the auto fill..we’ve had that for maybe 10 years or more! The operation of delivering water hasn’t in effect changed, select delivery method, deliver what is required either In pressure or flow..all the dials etc are basically the same as the human on the throttle. For the foam side of things this makes a vast improvement in the quality and therefore effectiveness of the foam.

I think it’s helpful to liken it, to how cars have progressed in respect of additional/new features ...anti skid, electronic stability etc etc. And a o.9 litre car can be just as effective as an a much larger old one, more efficiently and enviro friendly

@Matt no maybe not all the technology is required...but I bet you won’t swap your smart phone for that basic Nokia.

@Keith agree...old school scream the pump, now we have many firefighters with hearing problems, our scanias on tick over give a better supply than our older pumps. And the pump life is far greater so makes sense ££.

Single stage, two stage and triple stage pumps are with us, with the electronics that go with it..It’s all customer driven.

Rosenbauer pump info

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Saw this on a LFB Facebook Group yesterday.

A tired & bored pump operator working alone on an intermediate pump in a water relay. He has a doze while monitoring the pump's performance by laying on the soft suction and hugging the delivery hose. 

Why didn't I think of that? ;)

Falling Asleep.jpeg

  • Haha 1
Link to comment

i know that guy :) 

Anyways, totally agree op. Its completely unnecessary and probably expensive.

We just need 4 gauges, a throttle and full site gauge complete with plastic golf ball. The only tech we need in addition is the electronic flow metres. 

Link to comment

The auto fill is a handy, had it in Lincolnshire for last 10 years on the new trucks and that is handy.

@OscarTango a batch of 18 plates were taken off the run only weeks after going on the run due to the computers crashing and not letting it pump at all, one was at a house fire, luckily another pump was close behind.  If it had been out in the middle of no where it could of been a different story.

@Becile I still do have a Nokia basic :)  battery lasts for ever, the only thing technology does for me is keep me in a job but it has its place, not everything had to be changed when its worked the way it had for years and will still keep working in years, but in 20 years time is a modern pump going to be on the scrap heap as they cannot fix an electrical issue as it could be obsolete by then?

Maybe I have an old school approach to things but something like a pump doesn't need to be all that, just want to be able to get water from a to b.

Link to comment

I work for an employer where business resilience is critical and interruptions are not tolerated. In terms of facilities equipment, we have adopted IT systems where there is a clear savings, reliability or environmental advantage, but in recent years our building engineers have ripped out solid state control panels for some air con and ventilation (and the FM kit), and replaced them with old fashioned mechanical wiring, contractors and relays. There is a small likelihood that failures may be slightly more frequent, but down time is much shorter as something like a relay is a modular unit which can be easily identified as failing and replaced in 10 seconds. So the total off the run time is reduced. In other areas,  parallel (N+1) equipment is supplied to be used if the primary kit goes down. The alternative standby equipment is now often the mechanical type

Some merchant shipping has gone the same way and stripped out all but essential IT kit (it's where we got the idea) as breaking down in a force 12 or off of pirate strewn coast of Somalia is not good for business.

Losing your only pump at a persons reported aint good for business either, so I wonder if low tech stuff will be re-introduced in time?

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...
On 13/10/2018 at 00:21, Carl said:

I think what has been lost, and this is no disrespect to the newer firefighters, is the ability to pump without the flow meters and use the methods we have used for years

This one will vary by brigade I dare say. Finished my recruit course at the end of 2017 and we were training on Dennis Sabres with no flow meters or any of the like. 

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...