Williams Fire & Hazard Control’s latest development in submersible pump systems played a key role in an elaborate drafting exercise to support the company’s Big Gun demonstrations at the annual XTREME Industrial Fire & Hazard Training in May.
The new Dependapower package includes dual submersible pumps, a Palfinger 9001-EH wireless remote control deployment crane and a Caterpillar C9 diesel engine rated at 375 horsepower, all combined in one transportable unit, said WF&HC emergency response and training director Chauncey Naylor.
“It’s something we’ve been looking at for a long time,” he said. “Nobody has built anything like this suitable for our use so we built our own.”
Large volumes of water are usually the most critical resource in firefighting. However, water is not always readily accessible, particularly when the fire pump is greatly elevated above the water level. Dependapower moves water in difficult drafting situations where a conventional fire pump is limited.
The training exercises utilizing the the Dependapower involved drafting from an Olympic size swimming pool at the Tyco Williams F&HC facility in Port Arthur, TX, to supply water to a 4,000 gpm portable pump. In turn, the pump relayed water to an Ambassador 1x4 remote controlled monitor atop a Pierce fire truck loaned by Formosa Plastics.
Weighing 320 pounds, the pumps can be placed by hand or by using the Palfinger crane integrated into the Dependapower package. Though submersible, the pumps actually float on the surface of the water to avoid sucking up any mud and rocks off the bottom.
The hydraulic pumps can lift 8,000 gpm of water up to 35 feet from a body of water and provide positive discharge pressure. With a maximum vertical lift of more than 100 feet at distances up to 200 feet away, the Dependapower can still lift 6,000 gpm, Naylor said.
“Each pump has two 7¼-inch lines,” Naylor said. “One is a main supply hose and the other is a return hose. There is also a small hose we call a case drain line as extra protection against hydraulic leaks.”
Other than a brass impellor, the submersible units are aluminum. A hydraulic motor in each unit can operate at up to 5,000 psi. Water is sucked in through the sides of each submersible unit while an aluminum skid plate on the bottom helps keep the intake clean.
Beyond firefighting, Dependapower can be used for flood control, vapor suppression or general water movement. The Caterpillar C9 runs three hydraulic pumps – two dedicated to the submersible units and a third smaller pump that drives an oil skimmer for use in environmental cleanup.
The drum skimmer has a variable control that can be adjusted to higher or lower speeds, depending on the product being recovered, its thickness and the depth it is located.
In too many cases, the digital controls for units similar to Dependapower are designed with pump safety rather than firefighter safety in mind, a Williams F&HC spokesman said.
“If there is an oil pressure code, it will shut off,” the spokesman said. “It doesn’t care if there are eight guys out there on a monitor and hand line.”
With the Dependapower, unless a human operator intervenes, the unit will continue to operate as long as possible, even to the point of destruction.
“We allow this because you’re just as likely to have an oil pressure problem indicated because a squirrel chewed through a wire as actually having an oil pressure problem,” the spokesman said. “We like to have our operators maintain control, not a control system.”
Naylor describes the Dependapower as “hitting a home run.”
“We’ve got a versatile submersible built into a real tight package,” he said.Naylor