A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

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A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby Aaronw on Sun Nov 06, 2016 4:11 pm

Hoping that perhaps some of those who have been around longer than I might have some info on some early equipment.

First is I'm trying to find some info on an older rigid pump can from the 1940s, that is not in the style of the Indian Can. I have looked and when you google backpack pump, Indian cans and copies if indian cans are all that come up.

Image


The second is a Panama belt driven pump. These were small (perhaps 10 gpm) pumps that ran off of a fan belt with a simple clutch assembly to engage / disengage the drive. The Panama company is still around being a major supplier of drip torches, but they don't have any information on these pumps. All I've found is a low quality patent drawing.
The pumps seem to have been used in the 1930s and then faded away. Google searches provide images of Panama hats, Panama Pumps (shoes), belts etc but not what I'm looking for.

Anyway I was hoping that perhaps somebody might recall seeing either of these in the backroom of a fire station collecting dust, on an antique fire apparatus or in a museum.
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby chariots of fire on Sun Nov 06, 2016 6:24 pm

Aaron: A lot of the cans I remember were just that--cans. They were perhaps 28" high, 10" around with a lifting cover on the top. There was a T handle that attached to the stationary part of the top that acted as a pump sort of like a bicycle pump. You had to set the can down, pump the handle and squirt the water. Then pick it up and run ahead to get the fire you could not reach. Indian cans are "pump and roll" as you know. These weren't.
Here's a drawing of one. I tried finding a photo on line struck out.
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby fenix107 on Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:29 pm

Aaron; if it's the can you are referring to, we called them pump cans or hand cans in the Chicago area. They are still used by the CFD and many municipal departments because they do not require air to pressurize after they are used. They come in 2 1/2 Gallon which are thin ones and 5 Gallon which are a pain to lug around but you can get a lot more done with them. You can Google Pump Can Fire Extinguisher to see them. You should be able to see what you are looking for there

I would have posted it myself but am having issues posting it.
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby Aaronw on Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:58 pm

I've seen the round pump cans, even have one around here somewhere (I thought it would be handy to have during BBQ season).

The ones I'm talking about are the backpack style like the indian cans, but with a differently shaped tank. I've seen photos both of the sort of trapezoidal tank as shown in the photo above as well as rectangular tanks. The "kidney shaped tanks of the indian cans seem far more comfortable, just from imagining wearing one with a flat back so not surprising that they pushed the others out. I'm just a little surprised that I can't find anything on them. Just by dating the photos I'm guessing these were in service in the 1930s and 40s, so I'm thinking that even by the 1960s they would have been relegated to a shelf in the store room, if not the dumpster.
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby Aaronw on Fri Dec 09, 2016 4:14 pm

Here is another example, looks to be more of a rectangle with rounded corners than the kidney shaped indian cans.

This is a CCC crew from 1938. On the full size photo it appears to say Siren on the pump can.

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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby chariots of fire on Sat Dec 10, 2016 9:25 pm

That's a new one on me, Aaron. Never saw that style before.
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby Aaronw on Sun Dec 11, 2016 5:31 pm

Yeah, the Indian can style seems to have driven the rest so far out of business that they aren't even known anymore. I imagine like many wildland tools these early ones were just agricultural sprayers repurposed. The Indian cans offering better ergonomics and longer lasting (and more attractive) materials like stainless steel would certainly speak to me if I were buying for a department back when they were a new thing.

Sounds kind of funny using the word comfortable in relation to an indian can. ;)
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby chariots of fire on Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:12 pm

Ever seen a brass one?
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby HVFD324 on Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:04 pm

I have recently acquired an old Panama Pump made in Hattiesburg, MS. I'd be glad to share photos if I could figure out how to do it. I'm planning to restore it and probably use it!
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby Aaronw on Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:21 pm

Yeah, Charlie, I was "this close" to getting a beautiful brass pump can of the style in your drawing above.

It was one of those things in the back of a store room collecting dust. I asked if I could have it and the chief said sure get it out of here, but then changed his mind thinking it would look cool polished up and displayed in his office. It moved (unpolished) into a dark corner of his office where it got buried with other "things to do". :(

HV I'd love to see the Panama pump. I take it you are referring to a can style rather than their fan belt operated vehicular fire pump?

There is a photo tutorial here that may be of some help to you.

viewtopic.php?f=31&t=12
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Re: A question for the... um, more seasoned fire guys.

Postby chariots of fire on Mon Jan 23, 2017 11:16 am

I'm not sure whether the cans I referenced in the drawing were brass or not. The only ones I ever saw or used were painted red. Definitely 30's and 40's vintage. We had a 1941 Ford brush truck that had some in the open compartment beside the hose bed. Not terribly efficient as you had to set the can on the ground and then pump the handle to flow the water. It was not pressurized so you could not walk around with it and do much. The Indians made that so much easier although carrying around 50 lb of water on your back is not easy, especially in an area with heavy underbrush.
Maybe contacting SPAAMFAA would lead to some information on the Panama pumps you were inquiring about.
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