What is a Pumper Truck?

Mary McMahon

A pumper truck is a truck with a large tank and the capability to pump liquids or slurries into and out of the tank. Pumper trucks are used in a number of industries and settings, with the most famous example of a pumper truck probably being the pumpers used by fire crews when they respond to a fire. These trucks can be quite costly, especially when they are purchased with all the options, and they are a specialty item which is often manufactured to order, rather than being kept in stock by a manufacturer.

A pumper truck is a firetruck that provides water pumping capacity in places where a hydrant is unavailable or disabled.
A pumper truck is a firetruck that provides water pumping capacity in places where a hydrant is unavailable or disabled.

Residents of rural areas may be familiar with pumper trucks used for septic clean outs. This type of pumper can be connected to a septic tank to remove the septic slurry, and the slurry can later be discharged at a facility which can process it. Similar septic pumpers are also used to service portable toilets such as those kept on the grounds of construction sites and concert venues.

A pumper truck can be connected to a septic tank to remove the septic slurry.
A pumper truck can be connected to a septic tank to remove the septic slurry.

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Pumpers can also be used to transport fuels such as gas, oil, and so forth. Fuel delivery is typically accomplished with a pumper, and the truck can vary in size considerably. A large tanker truck may be used for something like gasoline, while a local gas company might use a smaller pumper to make gas deliveries to customers. Fuel pumpers have to be built with special care because they can be highly dangerous if they are not constructed and operated properly.

The pumper truck is also an important piece of fire apparatus. Pumpers are often first on the scene of a fire, providing pumping capacity in case a hydrant is not available or disabled, along with a water supply and some basic equipment for fighting the fire. Most pumpers have several points of attachment for hoses, allowing numerous firefighters to utilize a single truck. Chemical pumpers can be used to transport firefighting chemicals, such as those which might be needed when responding to industrial fires.

Pumper trucks can be seen on construction sites, transporting water, cement, and other construction materials. Specialty designs are available for trucks which handle slurries, ensuring that the works of the truck do not become clogged as it is used.

Operating a pumper truck usually requires a special driver's license, because the truck is large enough to fall into a different class of vehicle than that which a basic driver's license qualifies people to drive. Pumper truck operators also need to learn how to operate the pumping systems on their vehicles, and how to handle chemicals, slurries, and other special substances which they may need to transport.

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