When hiring a fire pump service, ask questions, be informed

We’re somewhat old fashioned around here: we believe a mutual beneficial, respectful, and professional relationship between our teams and the fire protection professionals is best for us, you, and your customers. To that end, we’re huge advocates of asking questions — about the test, the services you’re seeking to hire, prices (and surprises?), and heck, even the equipment being used.

The Test

You may already be an expert on what it takes to achieve a “pass” for your 5-year NFPA 25 test, or a new construction test reliant on NFPA 14.  Fantastic!  Don’t be shy about asking questions all the same.  Perhaps you want to clarify your own understanding, confirm something the general contractor or fire marshal is requesting — or, maybe you want to satify your own concerns about what the pumper service operator knows about the test they’re helping you complete.

We’re happy to “talk shop,” answer questions, and when we don’t know — as we’ll readily admit we’re not all-knowing — we’ll break out the NFPA books on the shelf for the various tests… and sometimes that means going a layer deeper and breaking out the more specific California edition of NFPA 25 versus the national version, for example.

The Services

Understand what you’re getting, and — as we get into below — for how much.  The provided services, and if it’s your team or ours is going to be doing what parts of the setup of equipment (and who provides it), the operation and breakdown are important. Things like…

  • Beyond the pumper engine itself, what else is included (if anything)?
  • If more than the water from the fire engine’s water tank is required, what is the water source being used for the test?
  • Where is the discharged water going — on the roof, down a storm drain… over the wall into that newly landscaped areas?
  • What is the declorination plan for that discharged water?

Being fully informed means no surprises in the field on the day of the test, all but eliminates the risk of re-test and re-scheduled visits due to missing components, equipment or elements, and ensures a smooth and successful test cycle.

The Prices

If you ask for a price, does the answer begin with a pause, and “Well, it depends…”?  In our opinion, it should not.  Pricing is an art in many industries, but as masters of their craft, a service provider should be able to provide a fair price, determined in advance of feeling you out for how much you can or will spend — or figuring out how deep are your pockets.

We have standard list prices, both for ‘routine’ 5-year tests and new construction tests. They don’t swing upward if you need to test at 11pm or on a Saturday.

The Equipment

homemade water diffuserHow does your pumper contractor obtain equipment?  How is it maintained, how often, and by whom?  Are their fire engines eBay or Craigslist “deals,” or purchased through reputable equipment brokers — or heck, the owning fire departments themselves?

We’re firm believers in investing in our success and proving the best value to our customers.  As such, we source new equipment from manufacturers or resellers who specialize in fire fighting and test equipment.  This includes:

  • Hose Monsters.  We buy ’em direct from the manufacturer, new, complete with the certified liquid-filled gauge and inserts.
  • Gauges. Our inline gauges are purchased new from the manufacturer via drop-shipments from fire resellers.
  • Hoses. Again, new hoses just work far more reliably, with annual purchases to augment and replace our fire hose supply.  (We carry hundreds of feet of 2.5-inch and large diameter/supply fire hose on every fire engine.)
  • Adapters, fittings and valves.  All are purchsed new, or refurbished by/to manufacturer specifications. We don’t want to risk in-field failures, which at best pose challenge to successful tests and at worst introduce safety challenges.

With one exception*, we do not fabricate, invent or home-make any test equipment.  We believe if you want homemade equipment on your job site, you should know that in advance, and the quoted price should also reflect that service provider’s economy approach… but never should you pay top dollar for a service when the service provider is investing just pennies to provide that service.

 

* The exception: we’ve concocted this contraption to bleed-down dry standpipes at the end of the test, designed to extend the bolt into the clapper and break the seal to allow draining.  To meet “dry sidewalk” and “dry shoes” goals, the discharge has a threaded 1.5-inch adapter to attach a hose and direct water away from foot traffic areas (and everyone’s feet).

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