Five Top Preventive Maintenance Tips for Fire Pumps

By Alan M. Petrillo

The fire pump is arguably the most important piece of equipment on an engine, and pump manufacturers have specific guidelines for keeping fire pumps in the best working order. We spoke with two W.S. Darley & Company pump experts, Greg Field, vice president of pump manufacturing operations, and Shawn Kelly, training manager, about the subject and they gave us five preventive maintenance tips to keep your fire pump in top shape.

  1. Perform regular maintenance on your fire pumps. Field notes that keeping up with oil changes and regularly checking oil levels can extend the life of a fire pump. Kelly says a pump’s oil should be changed at least annually, and every six months if the pump sees heavy use. “Service the pump, change the filters, check the chassis, and change the gearbox oil,” Kelly notes.
  2. Give every pump in your fleet an annual pump test to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) specifications. Kelly observes that an annual pump test is like a physical and will tell the tester if everything is going great with the pump or if it is lacking in some way. Field adds that while pumps are very maintenance free pieces of equipment, they need to have a yearly physical to see to their well-being.
  3. Check the pump’s anodes at regular frequencies. Kelly points out that the anodes in pumping systems help protect the pump from corrosion caused by hard water. “Inspect them regularly and replace them as needed,” Kelly says. Field notes that today’s pumps have at least one anode, and depending on the pump configuration, might have up to four anodes.
  4. Exercise your pumps on a regular basis. Kelly says, “Use your pumps. The tank to pump valve and the cross lay valves get a lot of use and open easily, but the 3-inch valve might be stiff at a call because it doesn’t get used much.” He suggests exercising all of a pump’s valves at least monthly, and stresses that more frequently is better for the health of the pump.
  5. Check the pump’s intake screens regularly for obstructions. Field points out that intake screen maintenance often is not performed as frequently as it should be. “You have to make sure they are clean, especially in departments that perform drafting operations and those in marine operations,” Field says. “We’ve seen some crazy things that have been sucked into the intake side of pumps, so we’d recommend cleaning the screens on an at least monthly basis, and a weekly basis for those pumps which are getting a lot of use.”
See also  Detroit (MI) Fire Department Switches to Darley Pumps

Author

  • ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Ariz.-based journalist, the author of three novels and five non-fiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment editorial advisory board. He served 22 years with Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including the position of chief.

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Topics

The fire pump is arguably the most important piece of equipment on an engine, and pump manufacturers have specific guidelines for keeping fire pumps in the best working order. We spoke with two W.S. Darley & Company pump experts, Greg Field, vice president of pump manufacturing operations, and Shawn Kelly, training manager, about the subject and they gave us five preventive maintenance tips to keep your fire pump in top shape.

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