Protecting your home from a wildfire
Homeowners looking for fire pumps need to be careful; the right pump and right equipment are vital and getting it wrong increases the chance of losing your house to wildfires. We invite anyone looking for a fire pump who has questions to contact us directly. Before you purchase any equipment, here are some things you need to know.
Follow the direction from officials in your area. We all want to save our homes but there may come a time when you have to stop the effort and get clear of the oncoming fire. When the officials order an evacuation, don’t hesitate. Fires move fast, take large leaps and will surprise even the most experienced firefighters. By not following official direction, you risk yourself, and you may put others at risk as well.
The water source for fighting wildfires in residential areas
In many parts of the country, people use water from their pools or retention ponds on their property. Many homeowners chose to draft water, or suck water, from these sources. These can be great water sources to fight fires and require certain considerations.
First, understand that these water sources are finite. The use of pools or ponds requires the judicious application of water to get the most impact from your limited supply. We will discuss the best types of pumps for this below (good advice may seem counter-intuitive.) Before the time comes, you should have a plan for prioritizing the fixtures and buildings on your property. Because you may have only enough water to save some, don’t wait until the emergency hits before you make decisions about where you’ll use your limited water supply.
Second, these water sources may have debris. From pool toys inadvertently left in the pool to ‘hidden’ debris naturally found in ponds, static water sources can hold more than just water. You need to be sure to have the proper filters or screens on the intake hose to ensure your pump does not get clogged by debris, especially if you are drafting water from a pond.
The right Pump for protecting homes in a wildfire
To understand which pump is best, you must first understand the trade-offs between pumps. We often have people call for a “fire pump”, and ask for high-flow rate pumps. They incorrectly believe that they need to pump as much water as fast as possible onto the areas at risk. This assumption has several inherent problems that put your property at greater risk.
Two important and inversely related pump specifications are “flow rate” and “pressure”.
Flow rate refers to how much water can be pumped through in a period of time; typically referred to as gallons per minute or GPM. Obviously, the higher the GPM, the more water that is pumped on to the target area.
Pressure refers to the force with which the water is passed through the pump and hoses. All things being equal, higher pressure pumps pass through less water, but can “push” the water further/higher. Here is the mistake we often see. People want to dump as much water as they can onto the target area, and thus ask for a high flow-rate pump, often 100GPM+ and forget about pressure.
There are two primary issues with this.
Run-off. When pumping that much water onto a target area, some is absorbed and settles in the area, protecting it. But most of the water simply is not absorbed and runs “downhill” or is soaked more deeply than needed. With a limited water source, you can ill afford this kind of waste.
High flow-rate means lower pressure. The lower pressure may mean your pump can’t push the water high enough to reach critical areas of your home or forces you to get closer to danger areas than you should.
When looking for a fire pump, you need to balance the horsepower, flow rate and pressure to maximize effectiveness, limiting wasted water and being able to place water in critical areas. We typically recommend fire pumps that have a flow rate of around 40-80GPM. This is enough water to provide effective protection, provides enough potential pressure to reach critical areas while conserving the limited water supply from your pool or pond.
When asking for a pump to help fight fires, don’t ask for a trash pump. These are very popular, high flow rate pumps. Their purpose is to drain water as fast as possible. Thus they have high flow-rates, but low pressure. These are the most frequently requested pumps but are not correct for the application of fire fighting. Avoid this pump.
Test your fire pump and systemWhen you’ve purchased and installed your fire pump, test it thoroughly. It’s not just about whether the pump works, but also about your plan of attack… can the system (pump, hoses, nozzles, water source, power supply) do what you expect, protect your priorities. Walkthrough your scenario with a live operation of the system. Do this when you’ve set up your system, then retest it several times during the year to stay in practice. Real emergencies are better dealt with when you’ve practiced thoroughly.
Which pump should you get for residential firefighting?As in many cases, the right fire pump for your home protection may vary. There are some more expensive pumps that provide both high pressure and high flowrate. Where the water supply is of no concern, these may work well. But, for most residential fire protection pumps, where both budgets and water are limited, select the higher pressure pumps. A couple are listed below, or you can browse our fire pumps category here.
Other equipment for fire fighting pumps
Be sure to use hoses and nozzles designed for the environment of fires. In normal circumstances, most hoses will work. But, in the potential extremes of a fire situation, be sure the equipment is rated to handle it. Some nozzles and hoses are shown below.
For filters, be sure to pair the filter with the hose size. A couple of filters to consider are :
Of course, if you have any questions about the fire pumps or related equipment, please contact us. We are always willing to discuss the best options for your situation.