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September 30, 2020 4 min read

Davey Water Products wrote an article for Small FARM magazine back in 2009 and the information is still as relevant today.

Every year fire authorities across the country urge people living in fire prone regions to be prepared. 

Even with the best equipment, other things need to be considered at the start of every fire season to ensure the pump unit and associated equipment is ready if needed. Following is a checklist for your pump and equipment.

Fuel - Petrol: Most people are unaware that petrol has a limited life, it loses its volatility or quite simply it goes 'stale'. This may mean the if you have a petrol driven pump unit fully fueled and ready to go in September, by December it may not start. There are some important procedures to follow to ensure you r petrol engine is ready to start and operate correctly:

Change your fuel every two months: While in perfect conditions the shelf life should be at least three moths, are you prepared to take the chance? Changing the fuel over can be by usage or by draining the fuel from the engine. It also applies to fuel you have stored, even in approved containers.
Use a fuel stabiliser to extend the storage life of the fuel.  These additives must be added at the time of purchase of the fuel, and they will work on two stroke fuel as well.  The will NOT renew already stale fuel.

Fuel - Diesel: Wile diesel fuel has a longer shelf life, it too has a limited shelf life, contrary to some misconceptions. BP Australia recommends that under normal storage conditions diesel fuel can be expected to stay in a usable condition for:

  • 12 months or longer at an ambient of 20c;
  • 6-12 months at an ambient temperature higher than 30c

Keeping stored diesel fuel at lower temperatures in containers free of air and water, and out of contact with zinc or copper (or alloys including them) can help extend the storage time. The main problem is the settling of sediments and gums, which in the case of small diesel engines can be a very serious issue and can do major harm to the engine.

Another very important thing to remember with diesel fuel is cleanliness, dirt in the fuel can do serious damage to the fuel injections pumps, and in prolonged situations can lead to complete engine failure. Correct fuel filtration on the engine's fuel tank is absolutely critical.

Engine Oil: The use of good quality, correctly rated ingine oil is very important to the long-term dependability of your engine, especially when you need it most. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for the correct grade of oil and stick to their recommendations. Do not use a synthetic, multi-grade motor vehicle oil in your small engine, it simply is the wrong oil for this type of engine. 

Diesel engines require specific oils designed for diesel, and the diesel engine on your pump will need a different oil to that used for truck or motor engines. No matter which brand of engine you have always use the right grade oil and stick to trusted brands.

Air Cleaners: In a fire emergency you need every ounce of performance from your pump unit to be available, and poorly maintained air cleaners won't help you.  Adequate clean air flowing into the engine at the right speed and temperature is vital for efficient combustion:

  • Follow the engine manufacturer's schedule and instructions for the correct maintenance of the air cleaner.
  • Ensure your engine has access to ample clean fresh air.
  • Be careful changing the air cleaner from the engine manufacturers original equipment as these are specially designed for each engine.

Engine Cooling: The temperature at which an engine operates has a dramatic effect on the power it can delivery - the higher the ambient or surrounding heat and the more radiant heat the engine is exposed to the lower the performance.

  • Protect the engine from radiant heat; Install the engine in a flame proof enclosure which has some degree of insulating characteristic. Materials such as fibre cement sheeting, autoclaved aerated concrete or even concrete bricks provide good fire resistance and thermal insulation. Any enclosure must allow for adequate flow of clean air, but protecting it from radiant heat. Make sure the exhaust is correctly routed out of the enclosure.
  • Add a mist spray or sprays around the pump enclosure to protect the area from embers and to aid cooling.
  • Make sure the enclosure is easily accessible for engine fueling and pump servicing.

General engine maintenance: Sometimes it's the little things that lead to problems, but they are often easy to see if you know what to look for.

Fuel line: Check to ensure there is no water in the carburetor bowl. Make sure any fuel lines have not degraded over time.

Recoil Starters: Ensure they work smoothly. Check the recoil rope for any signs of wear; if uncertain, replace them.

If you need a new pump, please come in an see Eddie and team.

Extract Small FARMS October 2009 (Davey Water Products)

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