Water pumping for fire fighting and general use

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by oil pan 4, Aug 17, 2016.

  1. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    For my normal job I do millwrighting type stuff. Which means I deal with pumps a lot almost all centrifugal pumps. Most of them are water pumps and they are really big.
    This is more small scale, but will still use centrifugal pumps.

    So now that I have a little above ground water storage I want to be able to do stuff with it.
    One of the things that would seem quite use full is just being able to move the water around with something other than a bucket.
    The only pump you are really going to be able to find are centrifugal, so its best to find something easy to prime especially for fire fighting if you are going to have the pump or hose above the level of the water, then total suction lift rating this is important if you are going to have the pump above the water level and if can handle dirty water or not if you are going to pump water from a stream or pond.
    The 2 major categories of prime mover to power the pumps for fire fighting and general use are Electrical and liquid fuel.

    Obviously electrical wont work when the power goes out unless you have a generator or power inverter but the electrical pumps will be more reliable as long as they have power. So for an electric pump I think this will be a case of less is more, as in a smaller pump will allow you to power it from a small generator or a power inverter.
    For ease of use a submersible pump may be the way to go, just sink it, turn it on and it will be moving water.
    There are 12 and 24 volt submersible pumps out there but most look pretty cheaply made and to provide enough power to deliver a usable volume and pressure to spray water on something from at least a little bit of a distance you are going to need something that draws at least 25 amps of 12 volt power.
    Note: if you are going to use a power inverter for a 120v pump and have a cheap modified sine wave inverter your pump output my suffer by as much as 20% over using pure sine wave power.

    One thing that catches my eye as far as electrical pumps go are the 1hp "water sprinkler" pumps at lowes and the 1hp "irrigation" pumps at tractor supply and submersible pumps at both tractor supply and lowes. I am going to have to look closer at them and compare GPH or GPM total head and price and see if I can find any reviews.
    I should be able to power a 1hp pump with my samlex 2000w power inverter.

    For liquid fuel I think the best most cost effective thing to use will be a gasoline engine. I have a very old briggs and Stratton 5hp engine I would like to stick a pump on. Only problem is it doesn't like old gas, I left gas in it for a year and when I tried to start it the little engine would not stay running until I added some fresh gas. So if you are going to store the pump and not use it very often put the gas in a sealed pressurized container such as an MSR fuel bottle that stays with the engine. That way fresh fuel goes into the engine and it starts right up, plus the separate fuel bottle makes it easy to change out the gas when ever you would like, just dump the old gas into your car and refill with new gas. Gasoline sealed up in an MSR bottle stays fresh for a log time, one of my friends recently opened an MST bottle that had gas in it from 1994 to 1996 and it was still fresh smelling. Most of the gasoline engine powered pumps in a box appear to be trash pumps made for very high volume and low pressure such as you would want for pumping water out of a flooded basement or flooded job site. I think an "irrigation" or "water sprinkler" pump would be more appropriate should be lower volume and much higher pressure than a standard trash pump. A 200cc 5 to 6hp class motor should be tremendous over kill for this application. A smaller 150 to 160 cc 4 to 5hp motor should still be more than enough.

    Then you have to pick your discharge hose, I think I am just going to try a standard 3/4 inch heavy duty garden hose. I don't know if it will work but this is the most logical thing to try first.
    For the pump inlet I say go big. Try to stay at least the size of the inlet if the pump has a threaded inlet, if it has a precast hose barb inlet then just go with that size. If you have a submersible pump don't worry about the inlet, just keep it under water.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    That might be too close to call when it comes to starting draw. Make life easy on the pump/motor/power source combination by closing the discharge valve before hitting "start." (That is good practice anyway, most of the time.)

    If the suction pipe is longer than about 10 pipe diameters OR has an ell in it, go with the next size up. Cavitation is NOT your friend.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
  3. Joe13

    Joe13 Monkey

    Would a bicycle work with human power if geared right?
  4. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    What are you water demands and supply ?
    To little information .
    Human power is limited, figure on something about the exertion of a 4 mile an hour pace. and that for no more than an hour at a time. and that to depend on the person.
  5. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    All of my water pumping systems I've had a foot valve to hold the head ,and good screens on the foot/intake .
    Dunerunner likes this.
  6. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Pumping water takes a lot of power. The pumping of water is what actually started the industrial revolution.
  7. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Just a NOTE Here: The BEST Human Bicyclist, in the world can only Output, about 100 Watts on a Continuous Basis....
    Like for more than a couple of hours... That isn't a lot of energy in the Water Pumping Business.....
    Joe13 likes this.
  8. MountainMariner

    MountainMariner Clearly Ambiguous

    image. Diaphragm pump hooked to an air compressor might have some uses? They come in many sizes. We use some monster diaphragm pumps to pump water out of ballast tanks on ships. Not so good for firefighting but moving water quick, excellent. Also use some tiny ones that work very well.
    Tempstar and arleigh like this.
  9. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    check with any local fire department that has brush trucks for fighting fires. most of these will have a 250 to 400 gallon poly tank, a framework supporting a hard rubber, fiber reinforced 1" inside diameter hose, on a hose reel, often with electric motor power rewind. I believe most use a 2" trash water pump that is gasoline motor driven (unknown HP), with output reduced to 1". This reduction increases the output pressure considerably. ....... this is about all I can remember from memory, but details can be obtained if you only ask.
    Bandit99 likes this.
  10. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    I use a gas powered pressure washer for portable fire fighting! I have a 2000 gallon water tank that slips in the bed of my LMTV and the pressure washer rides on a frame bracket. With a stream nozzle, I can blast out a jet of water close to 50 feet! The washer uses a 16 hp twin I got at harbor freight tools. The pump is a rotery piston pump made by Godwin.
    Bandit99, Yard Dart and Joe13 like this.
  11. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    In the air force we are supposed to use air powered diaphragm pumps like that to transfer fuel on equipment. But we don't always follow that rule. Those pumps are cheap and reliable. Big ones like that use a lot of air between 10 and 15cfm.
  12. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    The reason they want them used around fuel is there are no electrical parts involved no chance of spark, additionally they can run dry and not damage the pump at all.
    Electric motors and engines can't guarantee this.
    I have used pumps like this for pumping out ditches and deep holes in the ground, work was being done.
    This would be the appropriate tool if there were a gas line leak in the ground and the hole they are working in is full of water.
    What I have found is that if it is at all possible , pumping water to an upper reservoir and using gravity to dispense the water, is the best use of, and least amount of energy rather then pressurizing it .
    MountainMariner likes this.
  13. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I have been looking around at submersibles and their total head is pretty horrible, usually only around 25 feet (10 psi at 2gpm).
    The lowes utility pump maxes out at about 180 feet of head (over 75psi). I have not made it back to tractor supply to look at their irrigation pumps but I think they are more or less the same thing.
    Lowes has military discount and is usually cheaper anyway.
  14. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Remember.......water is used to keep the pump bearings cool....maxing out revs when the outlets are closed will cause the pump unit to overheat...if the pump has a water recirculate feature...open the valve to allow water to recirculate when flow to the nozzle is not required and keep the pump cool.

    If the portable pump doesn't have a water recirculate feature....fit a short length of 1" pipe to a secondary supply outlet and open this outlet's valve slightly to allow some water to flow through the pump....this water could be used to flow back into a water tank or swimming pool, whatever your static water supply happens to be for pump drafting.

    It is good policy for the pump operator to have a short length of hose connected to a secondary outlet for his/her own protection, and to help support the withdrawal of a nozzle operator in the event of a hose failure, sudden change of fire direction, or some other emergency.

    keeping water flowing through the pump will help reduce the risk of the pump seizing up and failing at a critical moment.

    For those who live near salt water estuaries.....salt and brackish water will put out a fire as effectively as fresh water. Just remember to flush the pump and all drafting and supply hoses with fresh water, before returning the pump and hoses to storage.
    Tempstar and oil pan 4 like this.
  15. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    I have a high volume 3/4NPT 2bar relief valve I was thinking about using. Its factory sealed for something like 2.3bar if I remember correctly but I could unseal it and crank it up a little or a lot. All I have to do is remember where I put it.
    Yeah dead heading a pump like that is not good for them.
    That is pretty much how they ran all the pumps to the buildings in Afghanistan. They would take a submersible pump run it all the time and put a relief valve that dumps back into the tank. Not at all efficient but it did the job.
    chelloveck likes this.
  16. oil pan 4

    oil pan 4 Monkey+++

    Alright so I got the 1/2hp utility pump from tractor supply.
    Put a 1 inch pickup on the 3/4 inch inlet, did 3/4 outlet, 0-100psi gauge on a tee and garden hose adaptor.
    Just putting an open ended 3/4 inch garden hose on the pump makes 30psi.
    I tried reducing it to down to a 3/8 hose barb that didn't really change the pressure or really shoot the water very far maybe 10 to 15 feet. So I put a 1/4 male air fitting on there. That boosted the pressure up to 40psi and shot water at least 30 feet, it was getting dark out by the time I thought of using a 1/4 inch air fitting so not sure exactly how far it went.
    Its almost like a never ending air pressurized water fire extinguisher.
    My dogs hate it.
  17. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    I have a chance at an old 1953 dodge power wagon brush truck... it runs and the pump runs but I have to convince momma especially with a son getting married in July...
    MountainMariner likes this.
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    That's a year away!!! Besides, the bride's father pays, usually. You buy one round of drinks if you want ---
  19. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    It's in Colorado... airline tickets, hotel rooms, rehearsal dinner, etc....
  20. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    @Witch Doctor 01 .... Is the Pump driven of off a PTO Drive on the Transmission? In my Old '55 Dodge, PowerWagon, Panel Truck, I had a 5000# PTO Winch, built into the Front I-Beam Bumper... Flat Head Six... Got 10 MPG, Up Hill, Down Hill, Head Wind, Tail Wind, and would do 60 MPH, when running Flat Out... Courted & Married Alaskachick in that Truck.... She named it, "The Pig"..... Lots of fond Memories, in that Truck...
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