Quick response
Initial Attack
Chief - Virginia Fire Department

Our department was called on a mutual aid.  The first response department was in the process of laying 1 mile of LDH to provide a water supply.  I instructed that I would  begin delivering water from a near by static water source with our vacuum tanker until the other system was ready to go.  After some time Incident Command broadcasted do not charge the line (LDH) as the fire was almost extinguished because the tanker is coming in with its 7th load. (Tanker capacity 3500 gallon).  

Since we purchased our vacuum tanker the only time we use LDH is if we have to push water to a remote source like up a drive way. We can supply water more quickly and efficiently with the vacuum system.

Firovac' comments: Fires do not wait for set up times. Larry Davis always use to say in his water supply classes: There are 2 times in the life of a fire that it can be extingusihed with water from a tea cup. At the beginning and at the end.

Does it make sense to put the water on the fire as quickly as possible? Why should non-hydrant areas fight fires in the same way as in areas with hydrants?


Inquiry About Firovac Unit

Chief Shawn, an owner of a Firovac unit received a visit from another out of state Fire Chief interested in inquiring about his unit. The out of state Chief was considering a purchase. Chief Shawn was not a salesman, he would only give his honest opinion about his unit and would not tell him something the unit has not or cannot do. Chief Shawn would go to show him several unusual static water sources which he would say "Hey, I can get water there." He goes on to say "If I have 3 inches, I can get water." Even if the flow of the stream does not have that much volume and I have to wait for water, can I drive to the next available source and return by the time I could load this truck?


He also said his hydrants slow him down as there are only 1 or 2 in the area that can supply 1500 GPM. It was raining that day so they did not get to see the truck in action but Chief Shawn invited him back to see it in the action when the weather improves.

Now what do we do?
Frozen Hydrants
Colerain Township

As posted in Got Big Water Discussion Forum: January 30, 2019

"Has anyone experienced that pit in the stomach when you pull up to a hydrant in cold weather that won't flow water?  At one a.m. one day last week our fire department was called on mutual aid of a tanker to a structure fire.  The temperature was in the single digits.  What was dispatched as a chimney fire was through the roof when the first truck arrived with two people on board.  The second truck was a pumper from that department with one person on board.  Tankers from all around were called to help out.  Our vacuum tanker responded.

There were only two hydrants in the township.  Both were "froze up".  As usual water supply was a dominant issue at this fire scene.  An area firefighter, who just finished the evening shift, drove directly to the scene.  He had recently attended a tanker shuttle drill at Morrisvale FD in West Virginia.  He was aware of the "suck and dump" method of securing water.  The burning structure was close enough to the road that the attack pumper could fight the fire from the road.  No one had taken notice of the creek just across the road from the fire scene (It was probably hidden by the guard rails).  He advised our vacuum tanker to park next to the dump tank and draft from the creek and dump in the dump tank.  There was a 10-12 ft. lift and about 40 ft. of suction was needed.  The creek bank was so steep that no one could climb down to the water.  No portable pumps: no turbo draft.  Our vauum tanker simply sucked up a load of water and topped off the dump tank when it got low.  Our truck was safely delivering 350-400 GPM without turning a wheel.  Our tanker driver was warm and comfortable flipping switches from vacuum for tank filling to pressure to blow the water out into the dump tank.  Although the pressure gauges on the attack pumper froze at the fire scene our vacuum tanker was not hindered by freezing.  The vacuum pump was moving air - not water.  Although our vacuum tanker is the only such truck in our area at the present time I'm sure there will be more.  Its versatility helps it fit in to many water supply chalenges.  Our vacuum tanker made it possible for several tankers to be excused from the scene to get back to the station and thawed out."

Foot note by Firovac:  No one had to climb the steep bank to the creek.  A strainer is quick coupled to a 12' section of 6" hose and pushed to the water source.  Additional sections of hose can be quick coupled together to reach the water source location.  A rope tied to the strainer not only keeps the strainer in position in the water but helps when the hose is pulled up the bank at the end.  Vacuum pump (like a primer pump) works by air movement with no water entering the pump.

Drafting from a stream.
Congratulate your firefighters.
David Alvord - Cummington MA VFD

A non-fire person observed The Cummington, Mass "Fire Vacuum Tanker" that responded to a mutual aid request to assist with putting out a fire in a large wood mulch pile.  Exerpts from the "Daily Hampshire Gazette" article by David Alvord include: "This fire burned for two days and required multiple towns to support manpower and water supply needs at this incident.... I found Cummington Tank 2 packing up after drafting water out of stream next to Williamsburg Pharmacy.  They toned out around 10am and upon arriving found another fire tanker at a hydrant having isssues getting water.  Evidently, the amount of water being used from the hydrant system was lowering water pressure in the town system.  The Cummington tank crew, led by Asst. Chief Emerson said they would just go down the road and draft out of the stream.  The other 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 other tanker, still at the hydrant, with another full load.....Cummington Tank 2 delivered 6 loads to the scene (that's 18,000 gal.) during their mutual aid work.

Tanker change

"The tanker turned out great the guys like how user friendly it is to operate. We were able to use it the day after we got it back into town works great. You and your guys did a great job Thank you!" We received this email after installing a new tank with vacuum system on Department's existing chassis.

Satisfaction Leads to Another Purchase
Another Purchase

"We have had a Firovac for 28 years and have done nothing to it....."

Satisfaction Leads to Another Purchase
Another Purchase

".....why would we not buy another?"

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.