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A Port-a-tank is a plastic or canvas container that we can dump water into quickly at a fire scene.  This tank allows the tanker trucks to quickly dump their loads and return to our water source to reload.  Usually a pumper truck then pumps the water via 4" hose to the main pumper.  The main pumper then increases the pressure and controls the water flowing to the individual attack lines.  It is possible for the main pumper to also be pulling the water from the port-a-tank and not use the second pumper truck but generally that would require the tanker trucks to back into a driveway in order to dump and this increase in time between loads is unacceptable.

I'll try to look for some pictures around the fire house with the various tank setups and post them here in the near future if I can find them.