Five Tips for Choosing the Right Intake Valve

Are you selecting a new intake valve for your apparatus?
April 21, 2023 by
Five Tips for Choosing the Right Intake Valve
WFR Wholesale Fire & Rescue Ltd.

Are you selecting a new intake valve for your apparatus? Are you wondering how to narrow down your choices? 

An intake valve is an important part of your firefighting operation, and one you want to be sure is optimized for your department. If you are considering intake valves and trying to make the best choice the options can be daunting.  

We’ve put together five tips for finding the right Ball Intake Valve for your crew. 

Short on time? Watch TFT's Three Tips for Choosing the Right Intake Valve video! 

Consider Your Pump Panel Layout 

A good intake valve is useless if you can’t use it properly because of how it sits on your pump panel. When evaluating your options, you need to consider the layout and size of your panel. 

Verify the width, height, and depth of your pump panel and whether it sits behind a roll up door. These factors will help you determine whether you can get a standard intake valve or if you will need a low-profile option. 

Your layout can also help you determine if there are any obstructions nearby that may interfere with hand cranks or other pieces of the appliance. 

Evaluate Waterway Size and Friction Loss 

Two important considerations you should make are how large of a waterway you need and the friction loss of the intake valve you are considering.  

A larger waterway will allow more water to enter your pump with lower friction loss. If you draft from a static source regularly, this large waterway with low friction loss will be ideal for you. This can also be an ideal setup for departments that do not rely on drafting but need to move large amounts of water from a pressurized source.  

Does your department do a lot of drafting? Check out the Jumbo Intake Valves

Some apparatus may not need the larger waterway, though. For example, you may choose a smaller intake valve for a reserve apparatus or an apparatus that has a moderate flow capacity. You may also need to consider the smaller intake valve if your pump panel does not have space for the larger intake valve options. At the end of the day, the smaller intake valve will still allow a high flow rate, but with a large friction loss. Most of the time, they are more suitable for hydrant sources rather than drafting. 

Choose Handle Placement Carefully 

Selecting handle placement may seem straightforward but imagine placing your intake valve and realizing that the crank won’t turn fully due to a clearance issue with a 2.5” discharge on the panel. Now, you are tasked with correcting the issue.  

When you are spec'ing your intake valve, measure the area and check for equipment that may cause an obstruction with your handle. Ensure it will rotate fully and explore whether another placement choice would be more beneficial. Most manufacturers will provide a schematic or very specific measurements that you can use to ensure a good fit. 

Consider Remote Control Options 

For some departments, a remote-controlled option is necessary due to staffing limitations or other factors. Consider whether your department would need a remote-controlled intake valve option or whether the manual version would work for your crew. Another benefit to an RC model is when a department has a top mounted pump panel. The remote-control valve allows the pump operator to control the intake valve with a push of a button on the pump panel instead of climbing down to run the valve.  

Some departments run with one manually operated valve on the pump panel and one RC intake valve on the officer side intake. With this setup, the pump operator doesn’t have to go to the officer side or the side opposite of the pump panel to operate the valve, they can just press a button to control that extra valve. 

Know the Cost of Ownership 

The purchase price and installation of your new intake valve is something you will consider. You should also think about long-term ownership costs. Understanding what your valve is made with to prevent corrosion and encourage long-term reliability is important. You should also consider: 

  • The warranty of the valve you choose and whether or not it also includes an extended warranty against corrosion 

  • Serviceability and service procedures 

  • Cost of replacement parts 

  • Cost of annual maintenance procedures 

  • Availability of support staff and/or service classes offered by the manufacturer 


When you choose an intake valve, consider your pump panel, waterway size needs, handle placement, remote control needs, and the cost of ownership before deciding. You may find other factors you need to consider as well. Being thorough will lead you to the right choice for your department.