Pumper Units: How to build your own or purchase one wisely

By Bill Kleiman, Nachusa Grasslands

Whether you are shopping for a slip on unit, or want to assembly one yourself seeing what I produced can help. Below are some photos of pumper units I assembled this year.

At the end is a link to the Illinois Prescribed Fire Council equipment review page where you can find a more detailed document I wrote with lots of photos.   

160 gallon truck pumper above. What you see is a 5hp Honda GX160 Motor with a Hypro D30 piston/diaphragm pump with its pressure regulator.  The yellow hose is half inch ID Continental Gorilla hose.  There is a JD-9 hand nozzle, $165, and a Hypro long range rifle style tree gun $260.  I mounted the push button for the reel to the left of the red drip torch.  This is because the reel is too far away from the tailgate or side of the truck to be able reach your arm across to feed the hose onto the reel.  

I had my local fabricator create the stainless steel mount plate clamp to affix the pump to the bed at the back and front of the tank.  This unit should be able to withstand at least a modest vehicle collision.   My hand shows where the stainless Z shaped bracket “clamps” onto the skid unit. (March 2022 update: I concluded this plate was too much fuss. We still use the clamp near the tailgate but retired the front clamp by the cab due to it being hard to remove the clamp during the summer season. Fuel tank and other stuff in the way. So we added bolts through the bed to help the single clamp do its job.)

UTV pumper runs with the tailgate closed.  The main mass, the water, is up between the two axles. The plumbing is simple and clean, even if the hose is not perfectly reeled up.  The white laundry detergent bottle carries Class A fire foam.  We add a capful per 50 gallons of water, sometimes two or three capfuls.  The hose roll up handle on the reel is on the driver side for easy reach. This unit feels very stable on corners and zipping down the road.

I will end here, but if this is a topic of interest be sure to see the full document for 30 photos and text at the IL Fire Council website here: https://www.illinoisprescribedfirecouncil.org/fire-skid-units.html

About Grassland Restoration Network blog

Bill Kleiman publishes this blog. Bill's daytime job is manager of Nachusa Grasslands. We are looking for guest authors on various topics of grassland habitat restoration. Contact me with your ideas or drafts.
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