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Get everything you need to know about WATERAX pumps and water-handling accessories.

Where does the name WATERAX come from?

Our company (originally called Watson Jack & Co.) was founded in 1898 by Montreal native John Colquhoun Watson Jack, who, in 1925, introduced a powerful 200 PSI portable fire pump called the “WAJAX” (an acronym of his name). Through a number of acquisitions during the twentieth century, the company became known as Watson Jack Hopkins Ltd, WAJAX Equipment Ltd and Wildfire. The WATERAX brand name and trademark was introduced in 2010 as the series name for our portable high-pressure fire pumps. Today, the WATERAX brand captures the powerful meaning and essence of the historical names Watson & Jack Co., WAJAX and Wildfire as we seek to honour our roots and align with the company’s original purpose. Our new brand identity communicates the core nature of our manufacturing activities and our distinctive, proven brand of portable pump products.

Who runs WATERAX?

Raffaele Gerbasi, Marcello Iacovella and Frédéric Lefrançois met in 2006 when they were EMBA students at the John Molson School of Business. United by shared values, beliefs, and ambitions—as well as the same desire to work and play hard, the three purchased the company from Tyco in a management buy-out in 2010, and now lead WATERAX. Iacovella is a WATERAX veteran. Lefrançois left Ubisoft to join WATERAX. Gerbasi has extensive experience in technology companies. As a team, they have not looked back since acquiring WATERAX, a move which sealed their friendship, partnership and fate.

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Why choose WATERAX fire pumps?

The origins of WATERAX date all the way back to 1898 in Montreal. We started designing and manufacturing high-pressure fire pumps in the 1920s and pioneered the wildland fire control industry under the name WAJAX. Introduced in 1964, our iconic MARK-3® series rapidly became the gold standard in portable high-pressure pumps for wildland fires. For more than 50 years, the MARK-3® has been championed by fire crews and adopted by forest agencies around the world!

WATERAX engineers and manufactures high-pressure centrifugal pumps that are designed to move water over long distances and take it to high points of elevation. Our pumps have been time-tested and are trusted by firefighters to perform under the most extreme conditions.

Since the 1920s our commitment is steadfast: to help firefighters use nature’s most powerful force in partnership with the most trusted high-pressure fire pumps to protect our forests and our communities.

Do you offer product training?

For information on product training, please contact us at [email protected].

Do you offer product orientation sessions?

For information on product orientation sessions, please contact us at [email protected].

Who can I contact for technical support?

For technical support, please contact our technical team at [email protected].

Where can I find product demos and videos?

You can find product demos and videos on our YouTube channel or on our teaching videos page.

What is the typical delivery time for a WATERAX fire pump?

To best serve our clients’ needs, we constantly strive to maintain an extensive product inventory. In most cases, WATERAX fire pumps can be shipped from the factory within one to two weeks and we make every effort to ship in a timely manner. Please note however that delivery schedules can vary.

What happens if my pump is damaged during shipping?

Any shortage, damage or error in shipment should be reported to WATERAX immediately upon receipt of goods and at the latest within 10 days after delivery. All packages should be carefully inspected for visible damage prior to acceptance from the carrier and delivery refused or damage noted when signing for receipt of packages.

What is your return policy?

Please contact our customer service department for full details concerning the return of any goods and the issuance of a return goods authorization (RGA) number. Material returned for reasons other than defective replacement will carry a handling and restocking charge as per our terms and conditions.

What is a multi-stage centrifugal pump?

A multi-stage centrifugal pump is a pump containing more than one impeller on a common shaft and within one pump casing. The water is routed from the discharge of one impeller to the intake of the other one, thus increasing the generated pressure. Multi-stage pumps are generally more efficient than single-stage centrifugal pumps because they produce greater pressure at lower speeds.

What kind of pumps does WATERAX offer?

WATERAX has designed and manufactured high-pressure fire pumps since the 1920s. WATERAX offers a complete portfolio of high-pressure portable and vehicle-mounted centrifugal fire pumps that are powered by 2-stroke, 4-stroke and diesel engines.

Why are high-pressure centrifugal pumps used to fight wildland fires?

Higher-pressure pumps are required by wildland firefighters for a number of reasons:

First, the greater pressure helps move water over wider distances and points of elevation, allowing for longer hose lays able to service remote and hard-to-reach areas.

Second, they are safer and ensure better fire control for firefighters by providing higher and longer nozzle-stream reach. High pressure also provides better water penetration in thick brush and ground debris.

Why is the MARK-3® powered by a 2-stroke engine?

For fires in remote areas such as wildland forest, the unmatched power-to-weight ratio of a 2-stroke engine provides for a powerful yet lighter and more compact carrying unit. This is critical for quick response, relocation and agile movement.

What kind of oil do you recommend for your 2-stroke powered MARK-3®? What is the recommended fuel-mix ratio?

The recommended oil for your WATERAX MARK-3® pumping unit is any API-TC, JASO FD, ISO-L-EGD certified two-cycle oil. The optimum fuel mix ratio is 50:1. This new fuel mixture reduces carbon deposits in the exhaust port and extends the service life of the MARK-3®. The 50:1 fuel ratio was also found to work well with the older versions of the MARK-3®.

Why does WATERAX use a detachable pump end?

Fire personnel cannot have a pump down or out of service for a couple of days, let alone for 2 to 4 weeks (the time it takes for a replacement part to arrive). While WATERAX pumps are highly reliable, there may always be unforeseen situations which necessitate pump maintenance. The detachable pump end allows for the pump to be swapped out in seconds, enabling the operator to be back up and running in no time. It also means that the pump needing service can be set aside and serviced at a convenient time (without taking essential fire apparatus out of service for an indefinite period).

Why are some WATERAX pumps, like the BB-4®, B2X and STRIKER, equipped with a drive belt system while some other brands use a gearbox?

A firefighter has a large amount of equipment to maintain and service. WATERAX reduces this list by providing a drive belt system that, unlike a gearbox, requires no maintenance, generates less heat and is designed to last the service life of the pump. It’s also quieter than a gearbox—an important factor when communications need to be heard.

Can I pump salt water with my pump?

WATERAX anodizes its aluminum pump components. This creates a protective barrier on aluminum surfaces, making them resistant to corrosion and means that salt water can be used in the pump. However, because salt water is highly corrosive, to extend service life, salt water should not be left in the pump after use. The pump should be flushed with fresh water for at least 5 minutes after salt water has been run through it.

Why are WATERAX pump components made of anodized aluminum while others are made of bronze?

Pump parts made from different metals can attack each other when they’re exposed to water, causing one metal (the “sacrificial” metal”) to corrode. This process is called galvanic corrosion. The further the metals are from each other on the galvanic corrosion chart, the greater the corrosion of the sacrificial material. Bronze and brass are situated far from aluminum on the corrosion chart. When bronze or brass is combined with aluminum, aluminum becomes the sacrificial metal. For instance, a large bronze impeller will pull electrons from the aluminum components of the pump and cause them to corrode and degrade. WATERAX uses aluminum impellers to counter this effect and ensure that the pump’s aluminum parts last longer.

How should I store my pump?

For a pump/engine unit: always store in an upright position. For short storage time frames (up to 3 months): add fuel stabilizer to the engine fuel and spray a light coat of WD-40 inside the pump intake and in any parts on the pump. If the pump will be stored in a region where it may freeze: a biodegradable antifreeze such as Amsoil low-toxicity antifreeze and engine coolant should be poured through the pump and added to the engine’s radiator, if equipped, to the manufacturer's specified water-to-coolant ratio. If storage is to be longer than 3 months: completely run the fuel out before storing and spray the inside of the pump with a long-term corrosion inhibitor such as WD-40 long-term corrosion inhibitor.

For a pump end (only): lightly spray the inside of the pump with WD-40 long-term corrosion inhibitor and store with the pump inlet down. Do not get the inhibitor on the pump mechanical seal.

Is it ok to run MARK-3® on synthetic ready-mixed fuels like Aspen 2?

We recommend using 50:1 synthetic. We haven't tested it with Aspen 2 so it’s hard to comment on it right now. Here’s more information on the fuel mix ratio:

We operate MARK-3® pumps manufactured in the 1990s. Our pumps were designed for 24:1 fuel mix, is it true that we could also operate them with a 50:1 mix using synthetic fuel?

For old units, it’s fine to continue using 24:1. With the introduction of the 185cc engine with Nikasil® cylinder, WATERAX recommends a mixture ratio of 50:1, which is compatible on both Nikasil® (newer pumps) AND cast iron sleeve (older pumps) cylinder engines. In other words, don’t worry about damaging the older pumps with 50:1. So, if you have both older and newer MARK-3®, at this point, it makes sense to switch to 50:1.

Here’s the link to the Tech Note on the subject:

Parallel is for volume (GPM) and series is for PSI, is it not?

That is correct. However, with parallel pumping you are increasing the flow which also increases the friction loss. If you are not increasing the diameter of your hose, then the flow may only increase up to 10%. Therefore, we recommend using in tandem pumping over parallel.

Is the MARK-3® Watson Edition going to have a more robust clamp to lock together the pump and motor?

The MARK-3® Watson Edition will have a more robust clamp design that is easier to use as well. Consult the MARK-3® Watson Edition brochure for more details!

Is there a preferred gap for the spark plug?

The recommended gap for the spark plug is 0.5-0.6 mm (0.02-0.024 in). If unable to adjust the spark plug to this gap, replace with new spark plug.

Any tips when using class A foam?

Make sure to rinse your pump with fresh water after every use to avoid residue build up!

Is a backpack frame available for both the pump and the fuel can?

There is a frame for the pump (C-7404) but not the fuel tank.

When doing a tandem pump setup, is there a minimum distance you recommend between the water source pump and the kicker pump up the hose line?

This depends on the terrain that you are working in, but generally placing the second pump at 10 lengths is a good starting point. Keep a hand on the supply line at the second pump. If it is going soft, then the second pump is throttled too high or is located too far from the first pump.

On a parallel pump setup where do you recommend placing the ball check valves? Right off the pump or perhaps one after your first Y valve?

You can place it either right off the pump or right before the ‘Y’ valve. If one pump is more powerful than the other, it can overpower the other in a parallel pump set up. Having the ball check before the ‘Y’ valve will prevent the pumps from fighting each other.

Best practice for cleaning a dirty air filter?

Use soapy water and make sure that the filter is dry before you re-install it. If it's beat up, better to replace it. When you take out the air filter, make sure to engage the choke in order to block debris from getting into the carb/cylinder.

When priming fuel, how much is enough?

It is best to stop priming right as fuel reaches the carburator as seen through the clear fuel tube. It’s also better to under prime and then try to start it. If it doesn't work, prime a bit more, but try to avoid flooding the engine by ensuring there aren't any other causes for the pump not to start.

What do you use as a water source?

You can use a lake, creek, pond, private pool, or portable water tank. If you don’t have a water source close by, the RANCHER has a 65 or 125 gallon tank equipped with a lightweight fire pump.

What if you don’t have a pool, pond or source of water?

Then you need a RANCHER with a 65 gallon or 125 gallon tank equipped with a lightweight fire pump.

Why not just cut down the trees surrounding your home so you don't have to worry about a forest fire destroying your house?

This is a good start. You should always prepare your home and property in the WUI according to the fire prevention information found at sources such as NFPA’s Firewise® Communities website or FireSmart Canada

Is it safe?

You should never put yourself in a dangerous or life-threatening situation. In the context of wildfires, the VERSAX® fire pump wettens the perimeter of a property (using nozzle or sprinkler heads) which helps to prevent flying embers from igniting a fire. It is a preventive measure rather than being equipment specifically designed to fight fire head on. VERSAX® is suitable for rapid interventions which enable you to control a small fire on a property or private land before firefighters arrive. Always prepare your home and property in the wild-urban interface according to fire prevention information found at trusted sources such as the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise® Communities website, or FireSmart Canada. Evacuate as soon as authorities inform residents to do so or when it’s “common sense” to leave. Note that structure protection equipment is a value-added tool to all Firewise® and FireSmart measures.

Why should I own a portable fire cart system?

Having a fire pump accessible at all times, for high-risk and high-value residential properties, means that you are ready and equipped. Protect your defensible space and reduce the chances of fire spreading to neighbouring homes or the surrounding forest. Being prepared gives your property a fighting chance against an approaching wildfire before the firefighters arrive. While we do not encourage you to fight a raging wildfire on your own, you can make a difference with the right plan and the appropriate equipment.

Does the VERSAX® pump have other uses?

The VERSAX® is a multipurpose fire pump that can also be used for rapid interventions, tank filling, water transfers and as an ATV slip-on unit. This portable pump is ideal for emergency protection against fire on farms, private properties and construction sites.

Where can I find a list of all WATERAX partners?

You can find all WATERAX partners listed on the Find a dealer page.