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Fire Engines Photos

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Prime Movers
Fire Engine Photos
No: 5866   Contributor: Paul Warnock   Year: 2005   Manufacturer: MAN   Country: United Kingdom
Prime Movers

A line of Prime Movers and High volume pumping / hose box units parked up at the Fire Service College at Moreton in the Marsh, photographed in 2005 awaiting crew training and delivery to various Fire and Rescue Services throughout the UK. There was also a large number of I.R.U.'s on operator and training too.
Picture added on 20 January 2008
add commentComments:
great photos wonder if one of theses is east sussex's ?

Added by Harvey Dan on 29 January 2008.
As I understand it, these units have the Dutch floating 3500 LPM pump, which is hydraulics-powered, and a supply of LDH.

This system is great for the Netherlands, where there is open water virtually everywhere - and where fire services are charged if they use mains water from hydrants!

But is it the best solution under UK conditions, where such units would be mainly employed in urban areas to relay water from pumps supplied by hydrants, rather than open water? It seems they offer no advantage over conventional LDH hose layers, and may be are less effective - because their hose capacity is constrained by the space needed for the floating pump and its power unit.

These are also rather large vehicles if they have to be able to gain access to a lot of open water sources in the British Isles. If this really their purpose, why not an accompanying Land-Rover with an NFS-style Heavy Unit 3500 LPM pump on the back, with its own engine? Or a rack of three portable pumps?

A few of these same pods have been bought by German fire services, but it seems that they too are mainly in areas with easily-accessible lakes, rivers or canals.

Is this another case of importing somebody else's bright idea, without thinking about whether it is the best solution for local conditions? The seventeen of these babies in our photo would buy a lot of regular LDH hose laying trucks....and leave change for quite a few Land-Rovers, too, if indeed they were really needed.

Added by Rob Johnson on 26 June 2013.
Sorry Rob, but you've got that very wrong indeed. Before I retired I was on a station (Kidderminster) that had two of these units and they proved to be invaluable on several incidents performing in such a way that we could never have done before they arrived. Many of them were used before they were delivered to the brigades at the Bunsfield fuel farm fire (the biggest peace time fire in the UK since the blitz) where they proved to be invaluable. We also used then for clearing flood water after the extreme 2007 floods including the Tewkesbury electricity distribution station. They cleared water in a matter of hours that would have taken weeks prior to their arrival. We were also mobilised (together with a HVPU from the West Mids) to the tragic fire in Warwickshire where 4 firefighters lost their lives, although we were not actually used for pumping as Warwickshire's own unit supplied all the water that was needed until the fire was finally extinguished, a job that would have probably tied up 10 pumps in a water relay years ago. The actual floating pump is easily carried to the water supply by two people and it's pod can be located some distance away. To suggest that a Land Rover pump could do the same job is, quite frankly and with all due respect, ridiculous.

Added by Mel Turbutt on 26 June 2013.
these pumps can pump large volumes of water and other liquids, they were supplied along with other units for use in a national emergency.they have been used on a number of occasions of severe flooding over the counrty. even though they are with brigades they are on call for use were required.They can also be used as required at fire's. Cheshire had no hose layer till they got a HVPU. Now it is used a lot for water relay.

Added by Dave Price on 27 June 2013.
These machines in many eyes replace our fleet of "green machines". They have proved their worth at more than one incident. Former colleagues in Herts told me Bunsfield was a proving ground for them, frankly half of Hemel could have been lost without them.
The idea is a sound one for any country with good open water sources. The need to pump large volumes was learned during the Blitz, was part of AFS practice and thankfully has not been forgotten.


Added by John Stott on 27 June 2013.
It was never suggested that these units could never turn out to be useful - just a question of whether the British Home Office could not have come up with a less expensive and better solution of rheir own, tailored to local needs.

By the way, the old AFS Green Goddesses could easily move over 3400 LPM more than a thousand feet using the contemporary 6 inch (150MM) LDH or plastic piping, so why would you need ten pumps to replace one of these units? Do they develop enough pressure to move 3500 liters through two miles of hose?

We all know that at large fires around half of all pumps attending are not actually used for pumping operations at the fireground. So there is usually plenty of pumping power available for relay pumping if needed. The real advantage of these units seems to be that they can functioin as hose layers for LDH hose. But this role can be filled just as well - or better - by a dedicated hose layer. Outside the Netherlands, most fire services use either dedicated hose tenders (USA, Japan) or hose layer pods (Germany).

Added by Rob Johnson on 27 June 2013.
Sorry, but I just find it incredible that you think you know more about these units than the people who have actually used them. They are not perfect (I've never known a new concept that was), but they do the job they were designed to do and have proven themselves at many incidents to be an asset to the British fire service.

Added by Mel Turbutt on 27 June 2013.
An EP was rated at 900GPM say 1000GPM for flood pumping the HVPU is I think about 1500-2000GPM using 6" hose. The main problem is only 1 set of hose ramps is provided per set and a ramp over 6" hose goes a long way in the air. Now if the AFS bridging units were still around?! They would need coupling adaptors but that is minor problem or new ones could be made up out of standard industrial piping.

Added by Neal Glover on 27 June 2013.
I took another look at Japanes practice. As illustrated on this site, Tokyo uses combinations of Mercedes Unimogs. Some of them have idependently-powereed high-volume pumps mounted behind the cab, and the others are hose layers loaded with LDH relay hose.

This combination is relatively inexpensive, and these units can go just about anywhere, while still being compact enough to squeeze into confined areas, if necessary.

Come fire, flood or even earthquake, it seems as good a solution to moving high volumes of water long distances as any other - and a lot more versatile than the UK pod.

Added by Rob Johnson on 27 June 2013.
According to fire department websites in the Netherlands, this rig has a maximum output of 3875 LPM at 15 bar and is rated at 3500 LPM. This equates to 850 IGPM at 150 PSI. Alternatively, it can move up to 6400 liters (1400 IGPM) at 2.5 bar for floodwater removal, but of course this volume cannot be pumped very far at such low pressure.

It comes with 3000 M of 150MM hose, which is around 9820 feet of six inch hose.

I do not know the exact figures, but the friction losses of moving 3875 liters of water through nearly two miles of hose suggests that several intermediate pumps would be needed. (I calculated that the loss per 300 meters is around 7 bar - anybody?)

Amsterdam has three of these, and the city was very involved in the original design and specification, which is actually a Dutch Home Office issue. Their fleet of over 30 regular Atego 2800 LPM pumpers regularly throw their suctions in to the canals, even on streets which are served by hydrants. (Which is the reason they have powered roof racks for ladders and suctions, because they drop suctions so frequently.)

The 'dompelpompen' are also backed up by a regular hoselayer pod with an additional 6, 000 meters of LDH, as even Amsterdam has some built-up areas which are very far from any open water source.

Assuming my researches have unearthed accurate data, it seems that we have not really progressed all that far from the day 55 years ago when I saw an AFS EP pumping out of the river Skerne in Darlington and relaying via 6 inch piping (including a bridge!) to another EP delivering three 1 inch jets = around 3400 LPM - at a demonstration of 1950s firefighting technology.



Added by Rob Johnson on 28 June 2013.
Aplogies for the typo! 15 bar is of course 225 PSI - but I believe that even this output pressure could not possibly move 3875 liters through 300 meters of 150 mm LDH.

Added by Rob Johnson on 28 June 2013.
I have a paper friction loss chart at home, which while it doesn't list 6" supply hose, I was able to extrapolate a number from the 4" and 5" columns. I got 2psi/100', 20psi/1000' for 1000gpm. This is using synthetic woven hose. From a fire academy website, I got 50psi/1000', about 3.5 bar/300 meters for 1000gpm. Whether the supply hose was rubber lined or synthetic didn't seem to matter. So at 4000', using a pump rated at 15bar, the intake pressure at the relay pump should be about 25psi give or take.

Do you know the service pressure of the 6" supply hose they're using? From the Angus hose site, 150psi is the service pressure for their 6". Going 9750' would yield @ 650gpm for that brand of hose.

Added by David L on 29 June 2013.
David - many thanks for the input.

I googled the US friction loss calculator, which also came up with a friction loss of 50 PSI (3.5 bar) per 1000 feet for 1000 US gallons. This equals 3640 liters or 800 Imperial gallons.

Assuming the 6 inch hose can accept 225 PSI, and with 25 PSI for the receiving pump inlet, this leaves 200 PSI to move the water, so on level ground it can run for 4000 feet. Same conclusion again!

The old AFS EP could easily deliver the same 800 IGPM, but was rated at 100 PSI (7.0 bar), leaving 75 PSI to overcome the friction losses - a run of 1500 feet using the AFS issue 6 inch hoses and/or piping.

So we have to conclude that this new concept can actually do the same work as a relay with only three Green Goddesses.

The big plus with this pod is the six inch hoses, but the AFS had these in the 1950s too!

If you were to mount the 3500LPM pump on the back of a Unimog, with its own power plant, and match up each one with a 1250 meter hose layer on another Unimog, you would have a very flexible and totally effective combination at a loss less cost. Of course, this is exactly what the Tokyo fire department has actually done.

So next time the British Home Office goes looking for innovative solutions, perhaps they should look a little further from their shores.

Added by Rob Johnson on 29 June 2013.
Rod lets remember these were ordered as soon as possible after 9/11. They had nothing to do with Home Office as at that time the Fire Service was under the control of the Office Of Deputy Prime Minister.The Prime Movers that carry the HVPU can also be used for other pods, EG Usar Re Robe units etc. To buy Unimog's for HVPU's would not have been cost effective as they would still have to buy Prime Movers for the other pods.

Added by Dave Price on 30 June 2013.
These actually make commercial sense as prime movers. Spares are plentiful and reasonably cheap. Better still they can be fixed by a commercial vehicle fitter with no specialist knowledge required.
In an ideal world we would see fleets of lovely 4x4 types with all of the equipment that is deemed necessary. I would love, personally, to see thousands of trained volunteers to staff a civil defence. The old chestnut cost is the reason.
I oft quote an article I read a few years ago, "Britain is nine meals away from anarchy".
These machines are at least there and proving their worth. A capability gap existed with the sad disposal of the green machines. At least these fill part of that said gap.

Added by John Stott on 30 June 2013.
May be. Interesting that Tokyo operate both the Unimogs and prime movers, too.

Added by Rob Johnson on 30 June 2013.
John - I agree about the cost issue. Its also a matter of priorities. Japan has a horrific earthquake risk, and has exactly what you describe as a result. Huge numbers of volunteers and a massive fleet of specialized rescue, fire and flood management vehicles.

Here in the US, San Francisco has a similar risk profile, and has four water supply protocols. The first is a stanard hydrant system, which provides city water at 60 to 80 PSI. The second - with manadtory but very ugly purple-painted hydrants - is the high-pressure system, using bay water and fed by two large pumping houses at up to 250 PSI. Third is a network of underground tanks, to be used if other supplies are rendered inoperable, which contain runoff rainwater - and lastly there is a fleet of hose layers with 6 inch hose, fed from the bay by either atandard pumpers and/or fireboats. One of these hose trucks is illustrated on this site.

THe prime mover and pod concept was pioneered in Germany in the early 1970s and is widespread in both Germany and the Netherlands. It is also becoming fairly common now in France.

The main reason is that fire services in these countries have responsibilities which are much broader than in most other countries. As an example, Amsterdam has sixteen prime movers and thirty-one pods with twenty-seven different specialist applications.

In the US, where fire departments are there to fight fires and provide emergency medical services, the prime mover concept has not evolved.
We have begun to see a few semi-trailer rigs, which are highly specialized rescue trucks (eg Georgia), and perhaps we may move more towards these in the future.

Added by Rob Johnson on 01 July 2013.
Regarding relay distances for the Home Office equipment booster pumps were placed every 1/2 mile or 35 lengths with 2 lengths less for the base pump. An inclinometer based device was issued to indicate pump position on hills etc.
The make pumps 40+ in Smethwick has again proved the usefulness of high volume pumping capability. (line of 6" yellow hose in some photos.
Incidentally, at Teesside Fire Engine Rally an "obsolete goddess on low revs supplied water via about 300 yards of Home Office 6" hose and 300ft ht for a multi pump display.

Added by Neal Glover on 01 July 2013.
Neal - this distance of 2625 feet works for pumping 600 IGPM at 100 PSI, because the friction loss is 75 PSI, leaving 25 PSI for the receiving pump inlet pressure.

But, if you want to pump 800 GPM, which is 3, 640 liters, the friction loss per foot increases and the maximum distance reduces to 1500 feet.

Even so, I think we are both making the same point. The "magic" ingredient is the six inch hose, not the floating pump. Floating pumps have been around a long time, and are popular here in the US, where they are often launched into residential swimming pools in communuities which do not have hydrants.

The other use of LDH which is of course almost universal here is to use 5 inch for hydrant supply. A short length can furnish 1, 500 US gallons (5, 460 liters) per minute - which is close to the maximum capacity of most pumpers in use here. Many engines carry up to 1, 000 feet of 5 inch - which can supply up to 800 US GPM even over this distance with normal mains pressure.

Added by Rob Johnson on 01 July 2013.
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