October 25, 2016
Steve Robertson*, Mfg / Sales / Training, Draft Commander:
Pump Testing is a necessary evil as some departments would call it, or a blessing in disguise as others would state. It is a means of making sure that the equipment you have no matter the age or how much it cost, is ready at a moment’s notice. By making sure to test every year, you not only gain ISO points, but you are looking at a history of your equipment to see if there is a potential problem lurking. I have personally seen where a unit was tested every year and I noticed the same test the RPM’s had increased in order to maintain the pressure and gallons per minute required. We were able to pass the test every time, but realized things were getting worn out inside the pump. We had the time to budget for a major repair this way and was not such a shock to the budget. Pump testing is not only to ensure that your equipment is fully functional, but a great way to train personnel. I have a good friend of mine that is a Captain with a Volunteer Fire Department, he also does full time maintenance for them and is one of the Training Officers. He puts on an Engineers Academy every year and works with existing and up and coming Engineers. They will do pump theory and operation, actual pump tear down and rebuild, as well as pump testing to help familiarize themselves with their equipment. Many Engineers have very little experience with Drafting and struggle in a situation where they have little or no water supply. Pump testing helps by not only learning how to draft but to see and hear potential problems with their equipment.
Using a Draft Commander® 3000 instead of a drafting pit is not always easy to choose between until you have used one. Once I have trained someone on the correct operation of a Draft Commander®, they are blown away on how much more user friendly it is and much more versatile. My friend mentioned above has to do his pump testing using a Cistern, a port-a-tank, and a discharge manifold. It is still accomplishing the goal to do pump testing, but can be hard with the constraints of weather and having to bring equipment to one location. We visited the other day and he said to me they were pump testing and the pump for the Cistern had stopped briefly. He expressed that they are in a rural area and this Cistern is vital to protect to citizens and their property. If this is out of service because it was worn out by pump testing, what will they do if an emergency hits them? I told him this is a perfect example of how a small investment in a Draft Commander® can not only make his job easier but potentially save the taxpayers a lot of money. Another example of the versatility of the Draft Commander® was a training I just did at Spandahlem Air Force Base in Germany. The weather was a cool 50 degrees and a light rain, nothing too terrible. The crew asked if maybe we should wait until it cleared. I told them let’s just bring the Draft Commander® inside the fire station in one of the bays and place our truck that we were testing in the bay next to it. We set everything up and were able to perform a full NFPA compliant pump test and we were also able to use the Engineers Training Kit to work on calculating friction loss with different lengths of hose and different size smooth bore nozzles to train pump operators. All of this was done inside and everyone stayed warm and dry.
Steve Robertson is a Level-2 EVT Technician and worked for 16 years as a fire truck mechanic at South Metro Fire Rescue in Colorado. He now manages various operations for Draft Commander® and teaches training seminars on pump testing across the globe.