Pump Tips

Transfer Valves – Two-stage pumps equipped with transfer valves need regular exercise.  The recommended practice is to leave the valve in the volume mode and change it over when you engage the pump on a run.  At a minimum, the transfer valve should be exercised several times when doing a daily or weekly pump check.

Leaking Discharge Valves – A leaking discharge valve will usually allow for pump pressure to be shown on the individual dischage gauge that is equal to the pump discharge gauge when the discharge is capped off.  If this is the case, caution firefighters not to remove the cap with the discharge under pressure.  Serious injury or death could occur.  Place some form of visual identifier on the discharge that it should not be opened until the discharge is repaired.

Elevation and distance both have a considerable impact on water flowing from a fire hydrant to the pump during an inline stretch.  Serious consideration should be given to having a pumper at the source hydrant to pump to the pumper that is laying into the fire to overcome the loss of pressure that elevation and distance create, particularly when flowing large volumes of water.  

When opening and closing discharge valves, a good rule of thumb is to take between three to five seconds.  This will aid in avoiding water hammer and allow the pressure governor or relief valve to act.

If the exhaust port for the engine exhaust points downward toward the ground or at the rear tires, place a piece of plywood on the road or stood up against the tire to protect them from the heat coming out of the exhaust pipe.  Left unprotected, the road could develop a pothole and the tire could be weakened. 

Regular pump checks can help in identifying potential problems with you pump.  A pump check should be done at least weekly.  For a copy of a sample pump check form, check the TFS file vault on this web page.

Winter weather precautions –  When winter shows up it brings with it comes all of the adverse conditions we only dread.  Firefighter safety is always a concern, and that concern is amplified when cold weather comes to town.  Make sure that all skin areas are covered and protected against the cold as well as the heat from a fire.

Cold weather can also wreak havoc on fireground operations, and especial equipment.  Make sure that moving parts are properly lubricated to prevent ice build ups that will hinder operation.  Ground ladders for example should be coated with candle wax to ensure smooth operation.  Bleeder valves and drain valves on pumps should be left open after water has been flowed to allow all water trapped in the discharge or intake to fully drain.  Close the bleeder valves and drain valves after you are back at the station.

If you are running with your pump wet, make sure that you circulate water from the tank to the pump and back again if you are standing by for any length of time at a scene.  It doesn't take long, particularly on a frigid day or night for the small amount of water in the pump to freeze up and potentially crack a discharge pipe or the pump casing.  

Non functioning main discharge gauges – If you suspect that the main pump discharge gauge is broken or providing incorrect readings, open a capped off discharge and use the gauge for that discharge as your main pump discharge gauge.  You can check gauge accuracy by inserting a calibrated test gauge into the pressure discharge test port and running water at various pressures from the tank to the pump and back into the tank.  Compare the main pump discharge gauge together with the open but capped discharge gauge against the pressure reading of the calibrated gauge.  if a gauge is providing incorrect readings you will now know it and can get it fixed. 

When testing your relief valve, always use a different pressure setting.  This will prevent the spring in the relief valve from developing a memory.  A relief valve should be checked by flowing water through it at least weekly.  


Every time you drive, make sure you drive to stay alive.  If you are the driver of a vehicle or apparatus, make sure that everyone in the apparatus is seated and belted in.  If you want to honor the memory of those who have died in the line of duty due to motor vehicle collisions in fire apparatus wear your seat belt, every run every time.