Canvas Tanks Augment Water Supply at Fires

Canvas Tanks Augment Water Supply at Fires

They have just one tank truck, with a capacity of 350 gallons, yet the fire fighting crews of the little town of Palmer, Massachusetts, were able to keep their pumps operating continuously for more than four hours, pumping almost 5,000 gallons of water at a recent large brush fire which broke out in an area almost two miles from any water source.

How they did it is told by District Fire Chief Victor M. French.

“Our first large scale test of Harodikes, portable, canvas tanks, which we had purchased to supplement our lone tank truck, took place about twelvethirty one night when a fire broke out at Jim Ash Road, a remote sector of town.

“Fanned by stiff forty mile an hour winds, the blaze spread rapidly over seven acres and was threatening private property and the woodlands which surround the town.

“As soon as the call came in, I immediately dispatched our tank truck to the fire. We loaded one of our three hundred gallon canvas tanks on our emergency truck and another on my station wagon, filled them with water and sent them to the site of the fire.

“At the same time, via the two way radio communication system which we have with the neighboring town of Monson, I notified Chief Partelo to rush his apparatus to the scene. It happened that the Monson crew was returning from another fire with an empty tanker, but fortunately, they also had a Harodike tank on their truck.

“At the fire, when the water supply in our tanker was depleted, we inserted hoses into the canvas tanks, hooked them up to a portable pump and pumped through the tanker onto the fire. As soon as one canvas tank was emptied, we switched the hose lines to another one, sending the truck on which the original tank was placed back to the water source to be refilled.

“By shuttling the trucks back and forth in this manner, we were able to keep a constant supply of water pouring on to the blaze until just before daybreak when we brought it safely under control.”

Commenting on the effectiveness of the portable tanks, Chief French declared, “These tanks give us a flexible supply of water wherever and whenever we need it. In the past, I have had to requisition tankers from milk or oil companies whenever a fire broke out which required a large amount of water in areas where we had no pipe lines. With the canvas tanks on our trucks to supplement our tanker, we are assured of as much water as we need for virtually any kind of fire.”

The tanks were originally designed as forest fire protection equipment. They are completely collapsible when empty, a feature which was incorporated into their design in order that they could be folded and back-packed by individual fire fighters into areas which are inaccessible to motorized vehicles.

Their pyramidal shape and all-enclosed top makes them self-supporting when filled and prevents the entrance of foreign matter which might clog hose lines when they are used in relays on the ground for brush of forest fire fighting. The tanks have a low center of gravity, a feature which enables them to ride well with a minimum of tipping when transported on trucks traveling at high speeds over rough roads or around sharp corners.

When not in use they fold into a compact unit 17 inches by 28 inches by 13 inches for facility in storing. The tanks are available in two sizes, 150 and 300 gallons.

Pair of canvas tanks placed on flat-bed truck make an emergency 600-gallon tanker, ready to be used with portable pumps.

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