5/81: FDNY Super Pumper System – Tillary St & Randalls Island, NY
Updated about 7 months ago
Fire Department of brand-new York
Super Pumper System
conceived by Gibbs & Cox, naval architects & marine engineers
designed & constructed by Mack Trucks – 1963
operational units delivered and accepted 1965
Final cost for design & construction was $875,000
In addition to the Super Pumper and Super Tender, the plan called for the Super Pumper to be supported by three "Satellite" units, which were basically a smaller hose tender, with 2000′ of super high pressure 4 1/2" diameter hose, and a roof mounted 4000 g.p.m. water cannon. The three Satellites were refurbished in 1980.
In circa 1982, the three Satellite support plan was revised, and expanded to include a total of six Satellite units. But alas, the Super Pumper System was retired shortly after. The Satellites were re-equipped with conventional hose and responded to to major fires in a support capacity, until they too were retired..
The Super Pumper was designed in the day of pumper (known as engines in FDNY parlance) capacities of mediocre capacity, e.g. 1000 gpm.
As with any large city port, the prevalence of massive warehouses and piers made for spectacular fires. `Unfortunately, the smaller pumpers were not up to the task.
So, the Super Pumper was designed to take advantage of the waterfront supply of water, and / or the high pressure hydrant system in most of the industrial areas of brand-new York City.
While I’ve never witnessed it personally, it has been reported that the 7" water cannon / monitor on the Super Tender tractor was capable of blasting holes in the brick walls of warehouses. It’s been said that in one instance in which the Super Pumper System responded to, that the water cannon punched a hole in the wall of the warehouse, ripped a significantly sized piece of machinery that had been bolted to the concrete floor, and pushed it clear across the warehouse floor to the other side.
It should be noted that the water cannon in these images was the second design. The first was slightly different and had a reducing nozzle to increase pressure and water throw.
Why it went out of service:
According to various sources, there were two reasons the Super Pumper System was retired.
The publicized and commonly accepted reason was that the cost of maintaining the system which was so infrequently used, was cost prohibitive.
The second reason which was told to us by one of the engineers, was more technical and consisted of two factors:
1) When constructed, the Napier Deltic diesel engine that powered the pump was mounted on the trailer. However, the air compressor and air reservoir for starting that diesel was mounted on the Mack tractor.
2) That type Mack tractor (that pulled the pump trailer, was prone to be out of service for repair frequently.
Even though the tractor of the Super Tender was of identical type, it was not equipped with an air compressor and therefore could not be used to start the Napier Deltic diesel engine.
Even so, with only one tractor in service (hypothetically if the other was out of service for repair) and had both unit been equipped with air compressors, only one piece of equipment could be pulled at one time. This would have required a third "spare" tractor, and this was not accounted for in the final plan.
Whether this reason can be confirmed through official channels at this time remains to be seen.
— Current Disposition of the Super Pumper System —
Super Pumper: private owner, Michigan (Bay City?)
Super Tender: private owner, California, (Hemet?)
— Super Pumper —
Mack F-715-ST Cab Over Engine
Trailer: custom designed
power plant: Napier Deltic 18 cylinder opposed piston (3 banks of 6 arranged in triangle (120 degrees) mechanically turbocharged
rated at 2400 h.p. at 1800 r.p.m.
equipped with ether injection system for cold weather starting
parallel hook up: 8800 g.p.m. / 350 p.s.i @ 1800 r.p.m
series hook up: 4400 g.p.m. / 700 p.s.i @ 1800 r.p.m.
supply: four to eight 4½” diameter super high pressure hoses
— Super Tender —
Tractor: Mack F-715-ST Cab Over Engine
equipped with 7” bore water cannon
capacity: 10,000 gpm / 37 tons of water per minute
tractor is equipped with hydraulically operated outriggers to stabilize unit while water cannon is in operation.
Trailer: custom designed hose wagon
carries 2000’ of super high pressure 4½” dia hose
pressure hose: polyester construction, manufactured by Thermoid Division of H. K. Porter. 1000 psi burst strength, 800 psi continuous operation
tender also carriers twenty sections of 8" rigid wall suction hose for drawing water from rivers and standing bodies of water.
Trailer is also equipped with pressure reducing check valve equipped hose manifold to supply eight standard handheld 2½” diameter hose lines at 100 psi
(4 outlets located on each side of tender body)