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Chiltern Brigade's new-generation quick-fill
We needed increased pumping capacity as well as support for firefighters in the initial stages of an incident by providing a base for supplies.
For the past 20 years Chiltern Brigade relied on an old traditional quick-fill trailer. However, being difficult to operate and tediously slow to refill tankers on the fireground (sound familiar?) it was seriously in need of replacement.
In talking about the shortcomings of the old quick-fill, a group of firefighters, Andrew Walls, Darren and Wayne Martin, Jamie Hammond and Wayne Dempsey, mulled over the question, ‘What do we actually need a quick-fill to do?’ Thinking hypothetically, they were free to toss around ideas of what they would include in a ‘dream quick-fill’. From their discussion, a concept evolved which they sketched out on the ground and their dream quick-fill began to take shape.
Based on the design team’s initial discussions, Andrew Walls drafted a plan of the new-concept quick-fill. The group took their ideas to a brigade meeting for discussion. The brigade agreed something needed to be done and approved the design team’s idea to custom-build their own quick-fill as nothing remotely equivalent existed on the market.
Andrew Walls explained the design was prompted by need. “We needed increased pumping capacity as well as support for firefighters in the initial stages of an incident by providing a base for supplies,” he said.
In trying to improve the capacity of a quick-fill to refill tankers quicker, the design team was faced with a difficult problem. Trying to increase output is usually tackled by increasing the pumping pressure. However, when this is done by using a high pressure pump on a traditional quick-fill, the back-flow prevention valve can be damaged on a tanker’s tank-fill inlet. Any increase in pumping capacity is limited by the diameter of the tank-fill inlet, restricting water flow and therefore limiting how quickly tankers can be refilled. Any improvements at one end of the system are negated by the restrictions at the other end.
An innovative concept
To address this difficult problem, the design team devised an innovative approach based on a high volume-low pressure system. The restrictive tank-fill inlet is bypassed by using a gooseneck attachment, which instead directs water into the top-fill of the tank. Designed to suit tankers as well as slip-on units and manufactured in stainless steel, the 80mm gooseneck connects to the pump via a 64mm Storz coupling and hose. A Finsbury pump operates the quick-fill, pumping up to 2,300 L per minute at 320 kPa. Two 80mm gooseneck fittings can be easily run from the quick-fill simultaneously.
How long does it take to refill a tanker?
Tests show that when using the gooseneck to fill a 3,000 L tanker via the top-fill, it takes just 3 min, while amazingly, two 3,000 L tankers, filled simultaneously, take only 3 min and 15 sec!
Interestingly, using the same pump to fill a tanker via the standard tank-fill inlet, takes 5 min 30 sec.
When refilling a slip-on, firefighter safety is also improved by using the gooseneck fitting, as the operator stands safely on the ground.
It is the groundbreaking concept of using a high volume-low pressure pump system, combined with the innovative gooseneck that enables the quick-fill to refill tankers so quickly.
Out in the field
Since its inception, the new quick-fill has been in high demand in training exercises and on the fire ground. It was used at Plunketts Road Fire, West Wodonga in December 2014 and everyone was impressed by how efficiently it refilled appliances.
The quick-fill also provides additional support to crews at an incident, with crucial initial supplies of A-class foam and cold drinking water on hand, until CFA logistics can provide ongoing supplies.
At District 24 Rural Championships, held at Chiltern in March 2015, Chief Officer Euan Ferguson took a look at Chiltern’s quick-fill and was very impressed when he saw it in action, efficiently keeping up with the demand for water for all the running events.
- Two ex-NSW RFS lockers house control panels, VHF and UHF radios, small equipment and hose stowage, and a 12v power outlet for charging mobile phones.
- Dual 12v batteries, 30hr life, which recharge while pump motor operates.
- Drafting suction line (10m x 100mm dia.) stowed on a rack above the trailer, permanently connected to the pump and ready for use
- Priming: Hale electric pump, 30 sec to full prime
- Light mast with 3x green LEDs and 4x flood lights
- Locker and deck lighting
- Spare wheel, wheel chocks, inertia brake
- 4x 20L, A-class foam, stowage inbuilt in base of trailer
- 3x 64mm Storz outlets
- 1x 38mm delivery and hose for crew protection
- 10x slabs of bottled drinking water in a 70L esky and 40L Engel fridge
- 24L fuel tank, 20L jerry can unleaded fuel
- Roll-out shade awning for crew, portable shade gazebo, 8x camp chairs, and collapsible rubbish bin.
Gross weight: 1.24 tonnes
Total cost: $24,000 (raised through a combination of brigade fundraising and grants)
Chiltern Brigade is extremely proud of the new quick-fill’s innovative design and improved safety features as well as the great team effort that has brought the custom-built new-generation quick-fill to fruition.