North County Fire Protection District held a demonstration of its newest training tool to show the community how it is saving water while providing the training its firefighters need, at Station 1, Jan. 25.
NCFPD PIO John Choi said, “As part of our vision to be a trusted and respected public safety leader, committed to ensuring the safest community possible through service, collaboration and innovation, North County Fire Protection District has purchased a $100K Direct Recirculating Apparatus Firefighting Training & Sustainability (DRAFTS) unit that was supported with a Neighborhood Reinvestment Grant through San Diego County District 5 Supervisor Jim Desmond’s office. This innovative training tool allows our firefighters to train, while conserving our communities’ water supply.”
Choi continued, “Formally called a Pump-Pod, the DRAFTS unit is a self-contained unit that recirculates water used during firefighter training and pump testing. These units allow fire departments to train with the use of full-flow water, without wasting the communities’ water supply. A DRAFT unit can pump 2,000 gallons of water continually.”
“This valuable training tool will allow our apparatus operators to learn and master the craft of fireground hydraulics while recirculating and saving thousands of gallons of precious water,” NCFPD Fire Chief Keith McReynolds. “Water is precious, so anything we can do to save water is something we want to do…Thank you to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (for the funding); we are incredibly appreciative.”
Because the unit is on wheels, it can be moved from station to station and even shared with neighboring city fire departments. Battalion Chief Pete August said NCFPD was able to borrow a stationary pump pod from Oceanside’s fire department a few years ago as it wasn’t being used during the covid pandemic. The experience with that unit led NCFPD to look into buying their own pump pod.
The Pump Pod allows firefighters to practice making pumping hydraulic calculations which are important when using a fire hydrant to fight fires around town where water pressure is affected, said McReynolds.
The new DRAFTS unit was purchased from Pump Pod USA. Walt Dorn, president of Pump Pod USA, was at the pump pod demonstration. A retired first responder in the private sector, he is also the developer of the apparatus, which he made at the request of his brother, a battalion chief in Ventura County, in 2016. The goal was to cut water use but also train the firefighters.
The first unit was built in 2017 and went on sale in 2018. The units are over 90% efficient in saving water, he said. They are now being used all over Southern California; the company is in Simi Valley.
According to Choi, “There are only two units in all of San Diego County; North County Fire Protection District and Valley Battalion (a shared unit with Valley Center Fire Protection District, San Pascual, Rincon, La Jolla, Pala, and Pauma).”