Water Movement, Charles D Clark, Morrisvale West Virginia
Charles D Clark

Charles D Clark is a member of the "Water Delivery Technical Advisory Committee" of the Ohio Fire Chief's Association. He has been interested in rural water movement for many years. In 2011 he observed an I.S.O. pratice water movement drill in Morrisvale, WV using vacuum tankers. Following are his observations:

1. Effecient set up of dump site.

Morrisvale FD carries their suction hose on their pumper below the ladders at chest height with low level strainer preconnected. This makes it possible for one person to remove it instead of 2. Dump site was completely set up      within the I.S.O. recommended 5 minutes with 4 people (2 on pumper and 2 on tanker).

2. Prompt return of first tanker to dump site is critical. The first vacuum tanker was refilled and waiting to move in to dump for the second time before the first mutual aid tanker was finished dumping its first load of water                  (at approximately the 17.5 minute mark of the drill).

3. If you need mutual aid to supply a pumper to fill non-vacuum units- How soon will the water from that site be available?

4. No waiting to fill.

5. Efficiency of side dump tankers. Tankers could dump into any and all of the four dump tanks at one pass.

6. Tankers turned empty.


A tanker sitting still is not moving water!"


What If?

Excerpt from ISFSI July/August 1992 publication "The Voice":

Teach our people to challenge tradition. While there are many good traditions, there are far more of a ridiculous, "We've always done it that way," nature. Challenge your people to say, "What If."

What if… you could load amazing vertical lifts and discharge through remote monitors?

What if… you could load from available yet remote sources?

What if… you could transfer water through LDH to drop tank from remote sources (pump and dump)?

What if… you could "pump and roll"?


"Won't be a S-- Truck in Our Station"
Firefighter in Ohio - Neighboring Department

"There won't be a s-- truck in our department" was a comment made recently by a firefighter in a neighboring department to one that has a Firovac unit. We have heard simular comments by other departments for some time.  There are several industrial areas in which vacuum is effective. Most people are well aware of one of these areas.  However most people do not know that centrifugal pumps (like a fire pump) are used in the same industrial areas (water moving like irrigation and septage) because fire pump companies have separated themselves from their original companies many years ago. I have also heard fire personnel berate a "milk truck" yet fire is the only service that tries to carry water in a square container.

As the neighboring department with the Firovac unit asked: "What are we in this for?  Are we only concerned with a big fancy looking truck?  If a vacuum truck provides more water, why not use them?"  An example of supplying more water would be when within 2 weeks of receiving the Firovac unit they had a barn fire.  The Firovac unit supplied 4 loads (7200 total gallons) of water to the fire before any other tanker could return with a load.  The closest hydrant was 3 miles away. The Firovac was able to tap into a large stream a half mile away.  This water was unuseable to the other tankers.

The late Larry Davis would teach it doesn't matter what type of container you supplied water to in rural areas.  Does it not make the most sense to supply as much water as efficiently as possible with the least resources?  I'm sure our constituents would think so.

Chief - WTVFD

"I don't think people realize what these vacuum units have done for our community."

Chief - Marshallville VFD
Marshallville, Ohio

"It's amazing how we do things different now." [With a Firovac] "We attack the fire more."

Priming, Water Supply, Vacuum Apparatus
Try Something Else
Chief Brian Conrad - Boyce VFD
Boyce, Virginia

Pumper was never able to get prime successfully from this location, so, the vacuum truck connected and was able to acheive prime. Prime was maintained as long as the pump was never shut down.

Water Supply, Training
Practice, Practice, Practice
Chief Brian Conrad - Boyce VFD
Boyce, Virginia

2007 - Practicing getting water from difficult water sources with new vacuum tanker. Pumper trying to draft from stream with low volume of water. We tried making a temporary dam to increase the volume of water. It didn't work real well for the pumper but we had fun.

Put Your Tanker to the Test
Charles D. Clark - Colerain Twp. FD
Ross County, Ohio

Is this tanker approaching the end of its critical dump time?  Critical Dump Time is how long the tanker spends dumping water until it reaches the point that it would appear to be more efficient to move on to refill.  How much water is left on the truck? conducts many water movement classes and raw data is posted on that website.  Vacuum tankers are rated by I.S.O at 100%.  No loss of water; complete fill & dump!  The vacuum tankers have a whole different flow rate pattern when charted.  The vacuum tanker basically dumps @ about 1,700+ GPM from the first to the last drop of water.  There would be no slope in its flow rate on the chart.

We performance test our pumpers every year.  How often do we performance test our tankers?  When you spec. out a tanker do your specs. say "Tanker shall dump 99% of its water tank capacity to either side or rear within 90 seconds...There shall be no water spilled out of the tanker as it travels to a fire scene.."  Do tanker manufacturers provide data on the water delivery performance of their trucks?  At 80% efficiency 1 tanker out of 5 is purchased to drive around in circles empty!  Anyone approving budgets/grants needs this info.

When you spec. out your next tanker will you research water delivery efficiency before placing your order? "...after all its only a tanker..."  (As a former vocational educator I know that people will only perform up to your minimum expectations.)

Maxi Tanker Pumper and an Engine
Earl Drury - Port Crane Fire
New York

Following is an essay submitted by Earl Drury, Truck Committee Chairman for Port Crane, NY, detailing the numerous factors which lead them to choosing a Firovac for their next tanker:




Like most small rural fire departments, the Port Crane Fire Department is faced with limited manpower & limited water resources. The Port Crane Fire Department has 35 members who operate out of 2 stations. The fleet includes two 1,500 GPM pumpers, two tankers, rescue, EMS vehicle, brush truck and ATV.

Port Crane is a small rural area with a population of 4,500 located in the Town of Fenton, Broome County, New York. The fire district is 29 square miles with hilly, curvy, narrow roads, mostly a bedroom community.  The hamlet of Port Crane has the New York State Police Forensic Lab, New York State DOT (Department of Transportation) facility, Town of Fenton Town Hall, Fire Station Number 2, Baptist church, lawn & garden center, two convenience stores, a few small businesses and residential homes. There are 185 driveways over 300 feet long, several are over 900 feet. Seven manufactured home parks are in the fire district. There is not a static water supply. The water supply is provided from 7 dry hydrants and limited drafting sites for an engine to draft from on the river, streams or ponds. The nearest dry hydrant to the hamlet is 3.6 miles and the furthest is 4.2 miles. All water for fire suppression must be provided by tankers.

A Truck Committee was formed that includes the chief, two assistant chiefs, captain, lieutenant and two firefighters. Their responsibility was to prepare specifications for a tanker to replace a 1979 tanker with a 750 GPM pump and 2,500 gallon tank.

The fire department is funded through a fire tax placed on the residences for a contract to provide fire and EMS services in the fire district. The mortgage on the new station was paid off this year and the Committee wanted to keep the payments for a new tanker close to what the payments had been on the station mortgage.

The Committee studied the fire alarm data for the past 5 years. Many important factors were found in the data that was an aid to the Truck Committee. The most important was that 59% of the fire alarms were between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM with an average of 4 to 7 firefighters responding. The Committee prepared a 20-year apparatus replacement plan. The needs of the fire department, community and assistance to the mutual aid fire departments was also taken into consideration when developing the tanker specifications. General specifications calling for an International chassis, 2-man cab, 430 horsepower diesel engine, automatic transmission, 3,000 gallon tank and a 3,500 gallon portable tank with a hydraulic rack were sent to 9 tank manufacturers. This provided the Committee with design features and a price range for this type of apparatus.  Demonstrations were arranged for fire department members and the Truck Committee. We also visited neighboring departments and observed demonstrations of their apparatuses. Several apparatus and trade shows were attended to help with ideas.

With limited manpower and water availability, the Committee chose a "Firovac" tanker/pumper manufactured by Firovac, Apple Creek, Ohio. The unit has a 1,000 GPM PTO pump, 3,000 gallon tank and two 3,200 gallon portable tanks with a hydraulic rack. The unit has a vacuum pump that is capable of drafting water from a source 60 to 80 feet away with a lift of up to 28 feet. With the vacuum pump, water can be drafted through a 6-inch drafting hose from either side or from the rear at 1,000 GPM. The pump can also dump from either side or the rear at over 1,000 GPM. Cameras are on the officers' side and rear of the tanker to assist in safe one-man tanker operation. Utilizing the vacuum pump and connecting the drafting hose provides a water deliver system operated by one person and the ability to draft water from a source that an engine cannot access. A normal tanker operation requires a tanker, engine and 4 or 5 persons to operate. The Firovac tanker will deliver twice as much water as a conventional tanker. The Firovac tanker added 28 additional sources in the district.

Utilizing the information from the fire reports for available manpower during daytime response to a fire, the Committee decided to go with a maxi tanker/pumper (1,000 GPM pump, 3,000 gallon water tank) an engine (1,500 GPM pump, 1,000 or 1,250 gallon tank) with four to seven persons that would be able to arrive on scene and "hit it hard from the yard" until additional resources become available.

The new tanker can stand alone if it arrives first on the scene. There are two preconnect 200 feet, 2-inch lines and a 3-inch, 200 feet preconnect with a "blitz" nozzle. Water is supplied to the preconnects through a 4-inch line from tank to pump. All of the intake and discharge valves are heated and drop down chains are included on the tanker for winter operations.

If an engine arrives first on scene, it can set up operations. When the tanker arrives, it connects a feed line ("piggyback") to the engine for additional water supply. Two narrow road 3,200 gallon portable tanks are carried in a hydraulic rack. They are removed and set up for tanker shuttle operation. One of the tanks has a 6 x 6 flange that a drafting line is connected to from the engine to the flange for drafting. A 6-inch drafting hose is attached to a new Firovac low level strainer (HVLL) and placed in the second tank for transfer of water from one tank to another.  The low level strainer will sit on the floor of the portable tank and will not lift up, which allows a higher volume of water to be transferred from tank to tank. This method uses 75% less parasitic water.

A hose bed of 1,000 feet LDH 5-inch hose, 18 foot roof ladder, 4'x4' folding tank for foam operation, 2.5-inch foam nozzle and educator & a Firovac multipurpose ice strainer are all included with the unit. Two compartments have adjustable shelves. Three compartments have slide out trays, a brow light, LED fire ground lights and a Federal "Q" siren completes the package. Total cost $350,000.00. The tanker was purchased without an increase in the fire tax.

The Truck Committee met its goals. Dedication, cooperation and the ability to "think outside of the box" enabled the Committee to prepare specifications for a tanker that provides the department with what is needed.

The tanker is designed to deliver a large amount of water with minimum manpower to the scene and do something with it when it arrives there, either "stand alone and hit it from the yard" or deliver large quantities of water to the engine. Planning has paid off.


Earl Drury

Chairman, Truck Committee

December 4, 2014

Why can you do it?

To respond to a recently asked question as to why Firovac vacuum fire apparatus can do some things that others cannot, the answer follows:

1.  Firovac's vacuum system CAN transfer water through LDH because it is designed specifically for fire service.  It is not desisgned like an industrial unit.

2.  Firovac's vacuum system CAN pump and roll with the fire pump OR vacuum system because it is designed specifically for fire service.  It is not designed like an industrial unit.

3.  Firovac's vacuum system CAN go from vacuum to pressure without having to vent the tank because it is designed specifically for fire service.  It is not designed like an industrial unit.

4.  Firovac's vacuum system CAN do much more because it is designed specifically for fire service.  It is not designed like an industrial unit.