Is Your Fire Department Efficient?
Colerain Township, Ohio

Charles Clark presented a class at the Ohio Township Association winter meeting in Columbus February 2, 2018 entitled "Is Your Fire Department Efficient?"  Charles has been a member for the Colerain Township Fire Department since 1983 and currently a Water Supply Officer, a past Fiscal Officer 1996-2016, a teacher at the Pickaway-Ross Career and Technology Center 1975-2009 and a member of the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association's Technical Advisory Committee on Water Supply.  He presented a brief history of the Colerain Township FD which was founded in 1983, the last township in the county to form a department.  By 1985 the Department was the 3rd in Ohio to earn a reduced I.S.O. rating (Class 7) using alternative water sources (tanker shuttle) no fire hydrants.  The home owners in the fire district have saved over $1.5 million in home insurance premiums.   (How willing would your constituents be to pass your levies if you could save that much for them?)

"There was very little information in fire training manuals on alternative water supply for fire fighting.  We had to invent our early water supply setup to efficiently transport water to a large fire scene.  To this day water supply has been a major interest for our department."

He presented efficiencies in three main areas: Finance, Manpower and Mechanical:

    "Thanks to lean budgets in the recent years  Colerain has built up a saviings program to pay cash when a new vehicle is purchased."  Other conscise financial evidence was presented including working will with neighboring Departments, not competing against them to compliment financing."Tankernomics" presented "5 efficient tankers @ 200 GPM each = 1,000 GpM. Compare to cost of fire hydrant system in you township.  A super efficient tanker is a tanker that can do everything that a conventional gravity dump tanker can do plus much more!"

    "A fire tanker water shuttle can be compared to a NASCAR race with two pit stops per lap!  Pit stop (fill)  Pit stop (dump)"  Sighting the efficient "fill fast and dump fast" gravity dump tanker they built he presented calculations that  a 3000 gallon tank only delivered 2400 gallons. He stated "80% is the same as one truck out of five running around empty!" 

Tankers are more efficient if they have side dumps.  Some can be retrofitted to side dump.  "It's human nature to only rise to the level of  minimum expectations.  We spend countless hours researching to write specifications for pumpers and then accept any tanker that might be in stock.  We test our pumpers but do we test our tankers?  If we only had some way to force the remaining water out of these (gravity) trucks.  A Vacuum Tanker pressurizes the whole water tank to efficiently force out all available water.  When nothing but air blows out of the tank you know the tank is empty.  A vacuum tanker is "O loss."  The water tank is sealed traveling down the road - no water spillage resulting in ice buildup on the road."  

"Vacuum Tankers address many issues facing fire power...funding...water access... weak efficiency...ISO credit...Safety...cost effectiveness..."

"Avoiding Tamker Gridlock. Your County Auditor's website and Gogle Maps can be used to measure lanes and find water supplies that are not visible from the road.  Use large diameter hose to avoid tanker grid lock back a lane."  (However)  "When you double the diameter of a water line you quadruple the flow of water under the same pressure."

"Manpower Efficiency When Handling Suction Hose  (Alligator wrestling) What if you stored suction hose on the truck where oe person can reach the hose standing on the ground?" A vacuum tanker in WV "is capable of hauling up to 135 ft. of suction hose (9 sections) - all accessible to one person standing on the ground.  Use a 90 degree suction elbow to keep suction hose up close to the pumper."  Dump tank flanges are available to draft through the side wall.

"Hydrant Hooked Many fire departments are "hydrant hooked." They only use water from "Flushing devices" (hydrants).  They drive past excellent water sources and travel many miles to line up at weak flow hydrants.  If you must use a hydrant as a water source water can flow consistently and gently into a dump tank.  A pumper can be used to draft from the dump tank to quickly fill tankers. A vacuum tanker safely and gently drafts from a dump tank fed by a hydrant."

Firovac's goal is not to just provide another unit, it is to provide an advanced system for supplying water to fires in urban/rural areas to improve operations.  We thank Charles Clark for this presentation based on the Colerain Township Fire Department's experiences.

Questions and comments can be sent to 

"That Truck is Just Great!"
Newald, WI & Ross-Newald Volunteer Fire Department - Ross-Newald Volunteer Fire Department
Newald, WI

"Thank you so much for all the help you have given us and the opportunity to operate one of your units, you were great people to deal with and very helpful thank you again." -Newald, WI & Newald Volunteer Fire Department (Facebook Page)


"Tell Larry that this truck is just great!" -Nick Schuett of the Newald VFD

Vacuum Tender Operation
Tribute to Chief Gary Henrie (Ret)
Gary Henrie - Teton County Fire Protection District

In 1996 the voters of Teton County, Idaho passed a fire protection district according to the business plan to build two new stations, upgrade the existing station and advance the 1950-1960 vintage apparatus to a new apparatus and fire fighting equipment to meet the needs of a very rapidly growing community. Teton was the fastest growing county in the state of Idaho and the tenth fastest in the nation.

With a mixture of grants and tax dollars, the Teton County Fire Protectin District was able to build two new stations, build an addition to the third station, place three new Class-A 1500 GPM engines with 1000 gallon tanks and three new 2600 gallon water tenders (two on used chassis) in service. The three new tenders were the vacuum type.

"We did a lot of research before settling on the vacuum style and purchased them from Firovac."  Teton County had very few hydrants, limited to the three cities and a few subdivisions.

"At 6200 feet in elevation and higher, it is difficult to draft with a conventional centrifugal fire pumper. The Firovac (Vacuum) System works well even in these elevations. When we got the first tenders, we took them to a river bridge to test them. In four minutes, fire fighters engaged the vacuum pump, deployed the hard suction straight down to the water 26 feet below the bridge and filled the 2600 gallon tank."

"We are absolutely amazed at what we can do in a water shuttle with this Firovac. After 46 years with the fire service, it is surley nice to have the water you need for a fire."

-Chief Gary Henrie

It is a tribute to Chief Henrie and crew for this large undertaking and to his forward thinking that the pumpers cannot do their job without a good water supply to supply them.

Chief Jim Delman - Sunset Heights Fire Department

Firovac is an excellent fire truck. It makes our part simple. We don't have to worry about having an engine to fill us.

Rural Water Movement Operations
Larry Reber - Firovac

In an article entitled "Rural Water Movement Operations" Bill Adkins entered in the February issue of "Fire Enginering", various ways rural water movement operations can be conducted was well presented.  

He pointed out the "First Due Appartus Drafting" method requires fewer personnel than others and is "ideal" for smaller budgets.  While "Nurse Tankers" can extend initial water supply it requires communication between the two pump operators and them working together.  Also the tanker will stay on the scene so be sure tankers are on the run card when using this method.  With the "Rural Hitch" method you need multiple pumps, equipped apparatus with operators and stellar communications between each of them.

My thoughts are various methods have been tried through the years to find a better way to improve the system.  The above are the methods that have been available to rural fire departments until recently. Vacuum apparatus is a more efficient system where water can be supplied quicker, simpler and with half the equipment and personnel beginning to end.  I welcome your comments and questions.

"Transform the Industry"

"I am not done trying to get a Vac tanker in our area! After watching multiple videos on them, I am sold...the advantages are tremendous. You and your team are going to transform the industry with this technology."

"This is Crazy"

Our department started looking at purchasing a vacuum tanker.  I said, "This is crazy," until I saw it demonstrated by a neighboring department.  

The Chief of that department said, "I can get water from there."  I thought, "Ain't no way."  Because it was a small creek in a difficult area - but he loaded the truck from there.  

I am now on a different department and we are looking at a vacuum unit.

Good Reference

A Michigan VFD with a Firovac gave an inquiring Department a reference. 

They said they, "would not have anything but" [a Firovac]. 

They also said, "once you use one, you begin to understand what it can do. It does everything they claim it can do. It is good quality and very reliable. The Company is one of the easiest to work with."

Kudos to the Cummington Fire Dept.
David Alvord - Daily Hampshire Gazette

The following is the transcript of an email sent to Cummington Fire Department concerning their performance and the performance of their 2011 3000 gallon Hawk Model Firovac forwarded to us by Bernie Forgea of Cummington Fire Department:

"Though we discussed it last night at the PVFA meeting, I want to congratulate the Cummington Fire Vacuum Tanker company that responded to the Williamsburg mutual aid request to assist with putting out a fire in a large wood mulch pile at one of the Lashway Wood Mills in their town.  This fire burned for two days and required multiple towns to support manpower and water supply needs at this incident.

When I stopped on my way back through Williamsburg yesterday late afternoon, I found Cummington Tank 2 packing up after drafting water out of the stream next to Williamsburg Pharmacy.  They were toned out around 10 am and upon arriving found a Northampton Fire Tanker at a hydrant having issues getting water.  Evidently, the amount of water being used from the hydrant system was lowering water pressure in the town system.  The Cummington tanker crew, led by Asst. Chief Emerson said they would just go down the road and draft out of the stream.  The Northampton Fire tanker driver said they couldn't do that because the water in the stream was too low to draft.  Cummington dumped their 3,000 gal. at the scene and went to the draft site and set up their vacuum system.  6 minutes later, they drove by the Northampton Tanker, still at the hydrant, with another full load.  Yes, Northampton was surprised (and maybe learned a thing or two).  Cummington Tank 2 delivered 6 loads to the scene (that's 18,000 gal.) during their mutual aid work.

Please congratulate your firefighters, Chief.  Great work!"

Compliment and Kudos
Chris Horan - First Vehicle Services
Dulles, VA

I am the OM for First Vehicle and we run the Fire Apparatus shop for Loudoun County Fire Rescue along with take care of other volunteer agencies in our region. One of these is Boyce Volunteer Fire Company who also have one of your Tankers. Not too long ago we were tasked with an upgrade to the control system and removal of manual relief valve to install a new automatic relief valve. We also decided to rebuild the seals on the dump chutes. I reached out and spoke with Ben for parts. Once the parts came in, the real work started.

During the process, any time we had a question or needed guidance, Ben was there. At one point, he and I were facetiming while I rolled around on a creeper under the truck. Then the biggest help was the night we returned the unit, went to test it and nothing worked. It was a Friday evening at 7pm and, not only did Ben answer my call, he patiently walked me through the solution.

Never have I had the help from a manufacturer like I did from your company to resolve problems or answer questions. You guys are very much appreciated and recommended as a company to work with. Ben is a huge asset for you guys, great job.

Thanks again for all you do.