by Rob Cox, April 6, 2011
Portable Pool Firefighting Pumps
Popular in dry areas of the country, those prone to wildfires, swimming pool owners can easily take advantage of the thousands of gallons in their pool to protect their home. Wildfires spread fast - soaking the roof line and surrounding vegetation around your house can keep the flames at bay.
Portable fire pumps or swimming pool fire pumps are usually mounted on a cart, with suction and discharge hose handy. Some of these gas powered pumps are small enough to carry to the poolside, then you connect the hoses, and pull the cord to start. Honda fire pumps are extremely reliable machines, that almost always fire up easily - but annual check-ups and new gasoline is recommended.
Portable fire pumps are sold in different sizes, from 5hp to much larger. The bigger the pump, the longer the distance you will get from the hose nozzle. If you have a very high roof, 3 stories or more, a larger fire pump would be called for. For most houses however, a 5hp portable fire pump will do the job.
Measure the amount of discharge hose that you will need. How far do you want the water to reach? 50ft, 150ft, 300ft? Longer distances are usually made up with 50 or 100 ft runs coupled together with quick disconnects. Regular blue vinyl backwash hose is not used with these pumps, reinforced heavy duty hose is needed to handle the pressure and the "dragging around".
Can't I just use my pool pump to put out the fire? Maybe you could - if you are able to close off the skimmers completely, and pump only from the pool's main drain line - and, if you have a multiport valve on your filter with a waste setting. You would connect a heavy duty backwash hose with a spray nozzle on the end, and use your pool pump to put out fires.
However, depending on the size of your filter pump, you may not be able to deliver the pressure needed to spray high enough or far enough. Best to test it beforehand. Another issue with using your pool pump to put out house fires or wildfires is that it relies on electricity, and sometimes during a fire.... power can be limited or unavailable. In some disaster situations, even the water mains are broken and even your garden hoses become an ineffective solution.
Portable pool fire pumps have proven effective at saving millions of dollars in property damage. Maybe you should think about how your swimming pool could help out in a fire emergency - on your home, or the home of your neighbor. With enough discharge hose, portable fire pumps can put the water where you want it. Portable, gas powered pumps such as these can also be used on a river or lake - any body of water.
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