Hi Folks - looking for some opinions out there on the size of the drop tanks used for tenders (tankers) and the amount of gallons that they carry.


Our dept. currently has two - 3500 gallon tankers and each tender is equipped with a 2000 gallon drop tank. We've had some "lively" discussions regarding purchasing drop tanks that equal the amount that is held in the tender.


The thought is that the tenders can pull on scene deploy their drop tanks unload completely and head out to reload. Which at times depending on where we are at in our area could take 15 to 25 minutes. The departments that we typically utilize for mutual aid run about the same size tenders but also have smaller drop tanks.


Opinions ? Big tenders - small drop tanks (easier to move) vs. Big tenders with large drop tanks ?


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Chief, for the converted milk tanker, there are at least three options for carrying dump tanks.


1.  Depending on the distance between the longitudinal beams that support the tank, you may be able to carry a dump tank laid on its side under the water tank.  This may require cutting out a sheet metal panel under the rear of the tank and adding cross-members and a sheet metal floor to create a protected compartment for the dump tank.


2.  You can hang rear-loading dump tank compartments on each side of the water tank.  This makes the rig wider, but you can adjust the rear-view mirror width and re-train your drivers to accomodate this.


3.  You can build a rear-loading dump tank compartment atop the milk tank.  This is the worst of these three options, as the ergonomics are not great.  However, you can add a pull-out roller ramp and a truck-mounted ladder to assist with loading and unloading the dump tank. 

The department that had the tanker before us had a snap together tank stored on the tailboard, until it fell off early one morning and was destroyed.  We've looked at the feasibility of options 2 and 3, but given the dimensions of a 3000 gal tank and the cost of modifications, we've been reluctant to spend the money.  I do think that a tank mounted on top of the tank is the best option.

If you have welders and fabricators on your department (or locals that are willing to donate the work) and can get the materials donated, you can do the modifications yourself.


In the case of my old volly department, we did some of the work ourselves and got some of the heavier work donated by a local truck repair shop.

True, we definitely aren't hurting for guys that can run a bead, we've already had to do some of our own body work.  But, we decided that we have more pressing budgetary issues to resolve first.
Thanks for the input folks - I think the main thing is to keep the focus on being able to keep water in the drop tanks and the wheels turning on the tankers until mutual aid arrives.

Personally, I approach this issue with some degree of common sense.  If your tanker holds 3500 gal, your portable tank should equal that.  Having portable tanks that only hold 2000 gal sounds like penny-wise-pound-foolish purchasing decision.  You're sending your tanker back out with 1500 gal in the hold. WTF?

If you're holding your tanker back until 1500 gal have drawn down so it can empty the rest and THEN head out you're delaying your water shuttle by the amount of time to use up a 1500 gal.  WTF once more.

I don't know what a 2000 gal portable tank weighs (empty) versus a 3000 or 3500 one but, if it's a question of breakdown and putaway, by the time the fire is over you should have enough available hands to help with stowing the tank(s). 

Thanks for all of the input guys, at our next meeting we'll try and bring this up again and see if we can get the ok to purchase at least one 3500 gallon tank.

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