Fire fighting puts miles on truck, even when parked

Truck water pump can spray water about one city block

Staff writer

According to Marion fire chief Mike Regnier, the 8-cylinder engine of the department’s 2005 International 4,300 city pumper truck is like a regular truck of that model, except for the fact that it also helps power a pump that can disperse 1,250 gallons of water per minute.

“When the pump runs during a fire, it’s like putting miles on the truck,” Regnier said. “We stop, put the truck in neutral, and put the pump in gear.”

Once the pump is in gear, firefighters put the engine back into to drive to allow the engine to power the pump during which the odometer also goes up.

Firefighters generally start the pump at a lower pressure to avoid damaging city hydrants and water pipes, but increase the pressure for normal operation.

“We can’t start the pump at full pressure because we could suck the pipes out of the ground,” Renier said, “It’s like that in any town.”

The International’s water pump has a digital display that firefighters both monitor and adjust water pressure and rpm’s depending on what hoses are in use.

Firefighters can also engage levers that tell the system to mix foam in with the water, circulate water within the system without dispersing it, and drain water off.

“A hose has about 100 psi during normal use and takes two or three guys to run,” Regnier said. “The International’s deck gun normally operates at 750 psi but can be increased to 1,250 psi if needed.”

The deck gun’s design allows one person to disperse a large amount of water without losing their footing or their balance. Firefighters operate it from on top of the truck but can also remove and resituate it if needed.

Pressures in the deck gun can shoot water from where the truck sits at the fire department all the way over Main Street, he said, which is about one city block.

“Thankfully the International doesn’t get very many miles in a year but when we are on a call we never shut it off,” Regnier said. “In a year, it’s driven maybe 40 miles but has about 40 hours of run time.”

Since it is a city truck, most of the calls it is used are near the fire station, and like other department trucks, the International’s is refueled after every call.

The water-holding tank is also refilled if needed. It has a 750-gallon capacity. However, if there is a fire in an area where there are no hydrants, hoses can also be attached to 2,500-gallon tank that are delivered by the tanker truck.

Regnier and other firefighters do regular monthly maintenance on department trucks that includes routine oil, antifreeze, and tie pressure checks.

Trucks are also scheduled regular annual inspections, usually in January, conducted by mechanics at the city shop.

He said annual checkups consist of an examination of the entire truck, a routine filter and oil change, as well as a check of all other fluids.

Regnier has been part of the fire department for 39 years and was appointed as fire chief about nine years ago. When he was 20, he was asked to join up after helping firefighters maneuver fire hoses during a blaze at the city shop.

“My wife says I don’t know when to say when,” Regnier joked.

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