Saturday, July 27, 2013

Farm Spayer to Fire Truck

If you stay around long enough, you’ll see that many things in the fire service are cyclical.  In the late 1930s, an orchard owner noticed his neighbor’s house burning, and dragged his sprayer, manufactured by a guy named Bean, over to fight and ultimately extinguish the fire.  From this developed the high pressure fog system for fire apparatus.   It was not unlike many pieces of equipment which had their start in other applications—think high lift jacks and positive pressure ventilation fans—so did high pressure, adapted from agricultural use.   In the 1940s and 1950s, the use of high pressure fog was a common tactic and its face was the ubiquitous John Bean, at least one of which was seemingly owned by every rural or suburban department. 

The pumps operated at 650-800 psi at low flow through gun type nozzles.  Useful on indirect attack situations, there were weaknesses in other applications.  Overtaken by volume pumps and larger lines, they slowly faded from use on structure fires.  The parent company, FMC Fire Apparatus, ultimately ceased operations in 1990 following a failed expansion into ladder trucks. 
Today, the technology is rearing its head again in the form of ultra-high pressure.   Pumps for low flow 18-22 gpm handlines delivering water at 1100-1400 psi are now being manufactured by HMA Fire.   As with many “new” technologies, it is being suggested for a variety of applications from ARFF to woodland, and yes, even structural fires.  Where it will go is unclear, but the fire service trip around the circle is virtually complete.

No comments:

Post a Comment