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Rural Water Supply Trick

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  • Rural Water Supply Trick

    I have always heard the "old timers" talk about doing this and this past weekend I actually got to participate in a drill where we tried this - just to see if it worked (for the record - it did).

    Has anyone ever tried creating a drafting point in a smaller creek by creating an overflow dam using tarps, plywood, hay bales - what ever you have handy ??

    We ended up simply blocking a culvert pipe with some plywood & rebar rods. Placed a tarp in the creek bottom to keep from sucking up sand & small rocks. Then placed our Brush Truck / Skid Unit with a floating strainer in it and Viola - instant water supply.

    For the record - this was a live fire drill for thermal imaging training & we did have a total of 2500 Gallons of water sitting on scene in reserve and a secondary draft point at a nearby lake ready for tanker shuttles if this "experiment" had failed or the burn conditions had gone south.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless

  • #2
    We use a wicker basket over our standard strainer on the suction hose to prevent small debri getting in through the hose.

    Try putting your hard suction strainer on a shovel, it breaks up the vortices and prevents a lot of debri being sucked in.
    Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
    Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.


    • #3
      Sounds nice but how many people/how much time did it to take to set up. And how versitle are the materials you used to set it up---like how many others time will you need a sheet of plywood,rebar,hey etc. And were they on the truck already?
      A dept. 1 town over that I train with has no hydrents and alot of creeks.
      Im not bashing you im just curious.


      • #4
        Taking notes grasshopper?

        Ah young grasshopper.Very easy with materials at hand.Salvage cover,closet hooks,pike poles,folding ladder,charged 2.5 hose,you have to be a bit creative and think outside the box.Set up time is usually minimal and allows a steady supply to be built up for use.Is sometimes limited but ANY steady source beats an on again/off again variety.Try it sometime,you might surprise yourself.T.C.


        • #5
          dfdex1 - curiosity is a good thing. That's why I posted this - to get some discussion going.

          Where we are (in the heart of Dairy & Cattle country for the State of VA) hay bales are darn near as common as rocks. That's one of the old "Use what you can find lying around" items. As for the Tarps, Rebar & plywood - all of these items are already carried on our rescue truck (for the record I'm not talking carrying a full 4' X 8' sheet of ply wood. All you really need are some 2' and 3' squares to cover the corrugated pipes that pass under the roadway. If the pipe is 4' or larger then odds are you've got enough flow / depth that you wouldn't need to create a temporary dam anyway.

          As far as the manpower / time issue, it only takes 2 to do it fairly fast. One person can do it by themselves, but spreading the tarp becomes a major chore then.

          The other thing to factor in would be is it worth it to do all this vs. finding a better water source.

          Tough call and it required being pretty familiar with your area and the M/A resources you can get. If you can get a 100 GPM flow from this creek after you take 5 minutes to build a dam OR your next closest "good" water supply will end up giving you a tanker shuttle supply rate of 150-200 GPM and will take anywhere from 15 minutes or longer to get all the M/A tankers needed in place to do so.

          Which one would you pick ? (If you said both you're right ) A quick and dirty supply like this when established early enough can pride you with "tide me over" water till a better supply can be established.
          Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless


          • #6
            If you know there are properties without protection in your area, you can often pre-plan this as well. Talk with the property owner, and have him dig a small settling pond in his creek. Choose a location with good year round access. Poured concrete is the cat's ***, but line it with large rocks and it works just as well.

            We have a small cabin cluster near our village, but 2000+' uphill from the nearest hydrant. The builder did this for a temporary supply while he builds his first cabins and it works fine. Once he saw how easy it was, he has decided to go all out and build an actual reservior in the same fashion next year. It should hold a couple of thousand gallons, with inflow exceeding 1000gpm.

            Don't forget to check your local regulations first. Some places won't let you alter a stream without approval from the appropriate ministry.
            Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!



            • #7
              Pre-Plan, Pre-Plan, Pre-Plan!

              When I first started in the fire service in 1968, it was a common practice to drill on drafting from these pre-determined locations. We had various points along the river, in which 55 gallon drums, minus the top, where inserted close to shore...allowing the suction hose to be inserted easily, to obtain a water supply. As hydrants became readily available, these locations were forgotten and became unusable, as sediment and debris obstructed the draft point.

              Of course, with very little effort, these draft sites could be made available again...either by cleaning them out, or having the Public Works Dept. set another drum in place.

              The point is....do it BEFORE you might need it. Go out and survey possible locations...and do the work beforehand.

              Currently, in my wildland firefighting role, it is quite common to establish drafting sites by damming up areas of streams or creeks. It doesn't take much to allow a draft to be established, suitable for supplying a Type 6 or 7 wildland engine, or a Mark III pump. Another tip--- put these possible draft locations in as waypoints on your GPS device. You can then determine proximity to those locations with the push of a button. It will definitely save time in getting water to the fire.
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              • #8
                Water is where you find it......

                A friend who operates in a rural area has a bunch of tricks like these up his sleeve. One is to carry a "Bungee cord" in his coat pocket. beside holding Doors, Gates Etc. open, he has used it to tie the valve open on a Stock Tank (a big metal tub 500 - 1000 gallons or so, fed by a pipe with a float valve) to keep water flowing into the tank as he drafts out of it. Another is to set up a folding tank where a pumper can draft out of it, but use a number of small portable pumps located in different spots to fill the tank. Got a problem with "Whirlpools" forming near your strainer? Throw in a Beach ball, Basketball, or other large floating ball. I don't understand the physics, but the ball will stop the whirlpool. And, did you know that every concrete mixer coming down the road has 200 gallons of clean water on board? Yep, sure does. In a clean tank, with a pump feeding a garden hose. We've arrived at a couple of fires over the years to find out that a mixer driver had put the fire out for us. And, if you have any farmers with irrigation systems, get an adapter so you can hook a fire hose to the irrigation system and get water from it. Stay Safe....
                Last edited by hwoods; 07-15-2003, 12:05 AM.
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                Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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                • #9
                  Good point on the irrigation system adaptors-need to look into that.
                  We carry 2'x2' plywood squares (pads) with our cribbing---- they work well to prevent a vortex---they plug a culvert well also.
                  People see a two foot wide creek ,an inch deep and dont think its useable---I tell em to visualise that rolled into a cylinder-(pipe) Its moving fair amount of water- Key word is MOVING--- rule of thumb if its moving its worth trying. H Woods-- been there on the concrete trucks- we had a major wildfire years ago- not only were they using the tank water- they were shuttling water in the drums and using the chutes to try and lay down a wet line on the side of the road. Heck of a deal.


                  • #10
                    N2dfire.....Well....I guess I qualify as an "old timer" but none the less, I/we (some more of my old timer friends) used to teach some of that stuff in pump operator class. I am sure Hwoods teaches it that way too. We considered it thinking outside the box because we were giving you information that helps you perform in the field...not just pass a test.

                    I will never forget the time when i was assigned H20 Supply on major fire in rural area. Set up several tanks and put the supply pumper drafting out of the primary. I had tankers dumping on 3 other tanks and the Engineer said, "How in the **ll do you plan on getting waater out of that tank into this one...I ain't got no time for moving this hose!" I said..."just watch and learn." Then (since they had none) I made a jet siphon with a SB nozzle (see...they have uses )...errr[just kidding...had to get that in.] Then I fashioned another using some adapters and a SB tip. In a matter of minutes I/we were moving water from the secondary tanks to the main tank and maintaining about 1200 GPM. He just looked at me and said..."Well I'll be dam**d! I never seen that before!"
                    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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                    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


                    • #11
                      Thats called the corleolus effect. Its acuteally is caused by the earths rotation. Down in kiwi land the water will spin the other way round. My history teacher told us during the whaleing years a ship had lost its sextant and used it to tell when they had crossed the equateor by pokeing a hole in a bucket and observing when the water stopped and draining clock wise and went to counter clock wise.

                      I think the ball inhibets the vortex from forming by not alowing it to suck air in.


                      • #12
                        Has anyone ever tried creating a drafting point in a smaller creek by creating an overflow dam using tarps, plywood, hay bales - what ever you have handy ??
                        Yes sir. Exactly as you described your experience only mine was an Urban-Interface fire. We damed (that spelling doesn't look right) a 24" culvert that was half full of water, using any available material and most importantly, as many nearby home owners as were willing. Gave them a great opportunity to know they were helping to save their homes.

                        As it turned out, our new drafting site was capable of producing at least 500 gpm and reduced the tender shuttle turn-around time from 40 minutes to less than 10 minutes including the fill time.


                        I'll have to try your SB nozzle method. I've used fog nozzles in the past with success but I'm always looking for new improved methods.

                        BE SAFE
                        Before Everything, Stop And First Evaluate


                        • #13
                          Haven't used a second filltank in our area--needed one Sat. night church fire we seemed to all be at the fill point (about 5 miles away) or in line to dump. How did you go about it? 11/2 into a hard suction? I'm showing my ignorance but we are a how do you do it without spending money type VFD.

                          stay safe
                          Stay Safe ~ The Dragon Still Bites!


                          • #14
                            Stan, I am intriqued by your home-made jet siphon, but I am having troubles visualizing it. Can you be more specific? I really likes the sound of it......
                            Omnis Cedo Domus



                            • #15
                              While I've never had to do this while involved with the FD, I can tell you something I learned from before that in my younger years. A municiple Stop Sign will block the opening of many pipes that cross under a road. If you are going to try this, I suggest only doing so when a building is really on fire. The highway dept might get mad if you start taking down stop signs for drills. It also would be wise to not use a stop sign from a road that is open to traffic

                              Actually, come to think of it, any large road sign will work. There are deer crossing signs every 10ft here and those would work too.
                              Last edited by nmfire; 07-15-2003, 11:32 AM.
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