By name alone, U.S. Fire Pump makes clear its intention to claim a share of the fire pump market. The company’s first product in that market – the largest NFPA compliant high velocity pump available – represents a significant advance over the existing competitors.
“The new pump is NFPA 1901 rated up to 6,000 gpm,” said USFP president Gary Handwerk. “The nearest competitor claims only 4,000 gpm.”
The 6,000 gpm rating is in a fire boat application. As a trailer or skid-mounted unit, the pump reaches 5,500 gpm. Used in a fire truck, the pump operates at up to 5,000 gpm.
“We are way beyond hand nozzles with this pump,” Handwerk said. “This is for big monitors and large diameter hose.”
Designed for engines up to 750 HP, the pump’s flow through layout maximizes its performance when drawing from a high flow hydrant system with capabilities of more than 8,000 gpm. All of this is contained within a single stage pump.
Built for multiple fire fighting applications, USFP fire pumps are ideal for fire apparatus, fire boats, fire trailers, skid units and water supply trailers, Handwerk said. The pump offers flexibility in drive options, coming in a mid-ship version, a bell housing driven version and a power take-off version.
“I can drive it with a big transmission power take-off or off the front of an engine on a boat,” Handwerk said. “I can split the drive line, like with a fire truck, putting the pump in the middle of the truck or set up as a rear mounted pump. And I can hook it directly to the bell housing on an engine.”
It is also designed for 120-horsepower SAE C/D auxiliary drive output to drive large foam systems or air compressors.
Included in the high flow design package is a 12-inch flanged suction inlet feeding an impeller eye that exceeds 10 inches in diameter. The discharge outlet measures eight inches in diameter.
According to Handwerk, the new pump is getting a lot of interest as a marine fire fighting tool.
“The U.S. Coast Guard and everybody else is pushing these higher ratings,” he said. “Regulations require a fire boat on standby for many of their operations, even in dry dock. Work boats such as service vessels going out to drilling sites need to have a fire pump and monitor aboard.”
Fire truck application comes with its own performance issues.
“We’ve got midship manifolding which kills a little performance,” Handwerk said. “We have some extra parasitic loads on the engine that you don’t have with a trailer. That’s why we are focused on the 5,000 gpm rating for fire trucks.”
That 5,000 to 5,500 gpm rating is achieved with a 600 HP engine, he said, not 700 HP as the pump is designed to use. Available horsepower has been a limiting factor in improving pump performance, Handwerk said.
“We’re just out of horsepower,” he said. “As we start building units with bigger engines, we’ll eventually find where the sweet spot is for us.”
In high flow fire fighting trailer application, the limiting factor has been the traditional industrial and fixed system NFPA fire pumps being used because they are not really designed to draft water or operate over a wide range of flows and pressures.
“They’re really designed for positive pressure,” Handwerk said. “Once you get past a three or four foot lift, the pump starts to really lose performance. But the plant saves money on electricity when the pump has to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week at a fixed flow and pressure.”
The USFP is designed with a “performance window.” It refers to workable power efficiency against the demand for a wide range of pressures and flows while pumping from a wide range of suction conditions.
“This performance window is important because you never know what you’re going to need if you have a fire,” he said.
The USFP product development team represents 190 years of experience in design, engineering, manufacturing, marketing and purchasing fire apparatus and fire pumps. For the immediate future, Handwerk said he intends to concentrate on sales.
“Right now I’ve got a pump that works really well on a trailer,” he said. “It works really well on a boat and really well on a fire truck. My focus is getting it in the hands of those who need it.”