Home' Smart Farmer : November 2009 Contents NOVEMBER, 2009 smartfarmer
BY DAVID EAST
ALMOST every home and farm
dependent on rainwater should
already have a minimum water
supply of 4500 litres for combating fires.
However, in times of fire, water on its
own is not sufficient, a petrol or diesel
engine-powered pump is essential to
deliver the water to the fire, or for
general spray purposes around the
house, because generally one of the first
services to be rendered inoperable in a
bushfire is the electricity supply.
For existing rainwater tanks, the
suction hose from the fire pump will
need to enter the tank at the inspection
port at the top, adjacent to the down
pipes from the roof guttering.
Be sure to allow sufficient length of
hose to reach to the bottom of the tank.
The self-priming ability of many pumps
should automatically draw the water
from the tank, however, for immediate
action (or for non-priming models) the
pump should be primed at the ready.
For new rainwater tank installations, a
special connection at the outlet should
be provided to enable the 38-millimetre
pump suction hose to be easily attached.
This method is far preferable to the
'hose over the top' because pump
priming time will be minimised.
Homes with swimming pools also have
a ready reserve of water for use in an
For firefighting, some modern pumps
can give more pressure than would be
achieved with a traditional 60 metres
high tank stand.
It is strongly recommended that
portable firefighting pumps should be
thoroughly maintained during the fire
Owners should carry out the following
• Run the pump at least once a week.
• Keep the petrol tank topped up and
fire hoses ready.
• Ensure fire hoses, shut off nozzles
and jets are in good order and that all
hose connections are tight with washers
in good condition.
On days of fire danger, the pump
should be primed first thing in the
morning ready for action with all hoses
connected to both pump and water
There are many types of pumps
available and not all of them are ideal for
Landholders should take the time to
understand which type of pump will
give them the best result in overall
performance and value for money.
About 90 per cent of the pumps found
on landholdings today are of the
This type of pump uses a rotating
impeller to draw water into the pump,
essential to fire safety
pressurise it and discharge the flow with
Commonly called universal pumps,
they can be used as high pressure fire
pumps, for water transfer tasks and in
small task irrigation systems.
Because the overwhelming majority
pumps used by landholders today are of
the centrifugal design, a few moments
spent understanding their working
principles could be time well spent.
Centrifugal force is defined as the
action that causes something, in this case
water, to move away from its centre of
All centrifugal pumps use an impeller
and volute to create the partial vacuum
and discharge pressure necessary to
move the water.
The impeller and volute form the heart
of a centrifugal pump and help
determine its flow, pressure and solids
The impeller is a rotating disk with a
set of vanes coupled to the engine motor
shaft that produces centrifugal force
within the pump casing.
The volute is the stationary housing in
which the impeller rotates that collects,
discharges and re-circulates water
entering the pump.
In order for a centrifugal or self-
priming pump to attain its initial prime,
the casing must first be manually primed
or filled with water.
Afterwards, unless it is run dry or
drained, a sufficient amount of water
should remain in the pump to ensure
quick priming the next time it's needed.
There are some high-end pumps on
the market that do not need to be
manually primed before operation.
These are vacuum assisted pumps that
use an air compressor or some other
device to separate the air and water.
This enables the pump to start dry and
re-prime itself without manually adding
A number of different trade names are
used for these pumps (zero prime, no
prime, etc. ) which may cause pump
buyers to wonder why some small
pumps are called self priming.
Most centrifugal pumps require the
pump casing to be filled with water
(manually primed) before starting.
Self priming is a term used to generally
describe many types of centrifugal
pumps and it means very simply the
pumps have the ability to purge air from
their casing and suction hose creating a
partial vacuum allowing water to flow
freely into the pump.
Making a pump last
The following check list will help to
keep the pump in top condition.
Check the following points regularly:
• Priming speed capacity
• Any noises in the pump casing
• All gaskets and O-Rings
• Shaft seal leakages of air and water
• All hoses, hose washers and
• Cleanliness of the suction strainer
Check monthly or more frequently
depending on application:
• Crankcase oil level
• Sparking plug condition
• Air cleaner
• For any unusual engine noise
• Proper RPM
• Correct carburettor setting
• Every six months, check the impeller
for wear, and for clearance between the
impeller face and the volute. Refer to the
Check the shaft seal for wear, as well
as the shaft sleeve.
Gilbert Motors Strathalbyn
34 High Street, Strathalbyn Phone. 8536 2066 ~ Fax. 8536 2672
Norm Nation Mobile 0429 060 947
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