1. #1
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    Default Cold Weather Pumping Question

    A buddy of mine and myself were having a discussion at the firehouse today regarding circulating the pumps in cold weather.

    My question is this: Would opening the engine cooler in the winter, in addition to opening the tank fill/tank to pump be more effective than opening the tank fill/tank to pump alone.

    Also, does anybody know how many GPM's the tank cooler operates at?

    I went to www.pierceparts.com and couldnt find and answer there.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by formerbuckeye View Post
    My question is this: Would opening the engine cooler in the winter, in addition to opening the tank fill/tank to pump be more effective than opening the tank fill/tank to pump alone.

    Also, does anybody know how many GPM's the tank cooler operates at?
    It's not much!! I doubt it would help things much, but it probably wouldn't hurt either.

    As long as a line is flowing the pump isn't gonna freeze up anyway. A better tactic however, would be to keep the nozzles cracked on any charged lines. An unfrozen pump is no good if the hoselines freeze up and the water running through the lines will in turn keep the pump from freezing up as well.
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    I usually do it, it won't hurt anything and keeping the cooler line flowing will prevent it from freezing as well. Depending on how the pump is set up, this may or may not be a problem.

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    Default Cooling

    The engine cooling line is in the engine compartment and will not freeze when in use. The more you have flowing to keep lines from freezing will only benefit you and your firefighters on the end of the lines.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FireFuss View Post
    We'll drain the pump when the temp is below freezing. On a fire call, open the tank to pump, and run the booster back into the tank fill.
    Maybe I am missing something, but why not just pull the tank fill/recirculate valve?
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    I've always just used opened the tank fill to recirculate water. You could open the engine cooler, I don't think it would really make that much of a difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    Maybe I am missing something, but why not just pull the tank fill/recirculate valve?
    I thought that as well...... But it might be a tad bit colder there than what we deal with here.

    Off track here but I think that the coldest I have ever ran calls in was 8 degrees.

    Everyone else?
    Bring enough hose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    The engine cooling line is in the engine compartment and will not freeze when in use. The more you have flowing to keep lines from freezing will only benefit you and your firefighters on the end of the lines.
    It CAN if it's NOT flowing. NOT all the plumbing for the cooler line is IN the protected area. We've froze the tubing before on long jobs. T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by L-Webb View Post
    I thought that as well...... But it might be a tad bit colder there than what we deal with here.

    Off track here but I think that the coldest I have ever ran calls in was 8 degrees.

    Everyone else?
    Try -30+ F. Changes the rules a bit. T.C.

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    Standard procedure here is to drain the pumps with all drains in the winter so that the valves do freeze up enroute to a call. Onscene, once the pump has been charged, the recirc valve is cracked to keep water flowing between the pump and the booster tank. But remember that a recirc valve is designed to keep water flowing between the warm pump and the cooler booster tank to prevent the pump from overheating in hot weather. So using the recirc valve too much in winter can theoretically lower the temperature of the water you are trying to keep warm.
    Even if you keep your pump warm enough to prevent it and the valves from freezing, unless you move water through the hoses and nozzles, they will freeze up and become useless. Always keep your nozzles cracked and flowing water in cold weather or you will have problems. Assign someone to keep checking these lines to be sure they have not been shut off or frozen up.
    Once fire ops have ceased onscene, immediately break down all lines, drain them and remove the nozzles so they don't freeze up. Putting the nozzles in the cab is a good idea.
    The real problem can be when you have cleared scene and are returning to the station with water in your drain valves. They ice up real quick so the sooner you get the truck back in the nice, warm truck bay, the better.
    Where I am, we fight fires between 7000' and 11500' above sea level on the Continental Divide, and I have seen fresh snow here in August so we pay attention to the effects of cold weather on our equipment.

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    Like Memphis said - flowing water through the hose is best - just try to dribble the water where it wont create a slip hazard. Just using the tank fill to slip water can create problems during overhaul stage because if you are working from a plug your tank can overflow,(when they are using little to no water) you can shut off the plug and just work of the tank , but that leaves your supply line static which can give you problems also. On houses that had pretty heavy damage we have knocked a hole in the floor or knocked the ductwork loose and put it in the vent hole.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lifeguard911 View Post
    Standard procedure here is to drain the pumps with all drains in the winter so that the valves do freeze up enroute to a call. Onscene, once the pump has been charged, the recirc valve is cracked to keep water flowing between the pump and the booster tank. But remember that a recirc valve is designed to keep water flowing between the warm pump and the cooler booster tank to prevent the pump from overheating in hot weather. So using the recirc valve too much in winter can theoretically lower the temperature of the water you are trying to keep warm.
    Even if you keep your pump warm enough to prevent it and the valves from freezing, unless you move water through the hoses and nozzles, they will freeze up and become useless. Always keep your nozzles cracked and flowing water in cold weather or you will have problems. Assign someone to keep checking these lines to be sure they have not been shut off or frozen up.
    Once fire ops have ceased onscene, immediately break down all lines, drain them and remove the nozzles so they don't freeze up. Putting the nozzles in the cab is a good idea.
    The real problem can be when you have cleared scene and are returning to the station with water in your drain valves. They ice up real quick so the sooner you get the truck back in the nice, warm truck bay, the better.
    Where I am, we fight fires between 7000' and 11500' above sea level on the Continental Divide, and I have seen fresh snow here in August so we pay attention to the effects of cold weather on our equipment.
    In august.. Really? How many feet of snow do y'all get in a season?

    and how in the hell do you operate in it?
    Bring enough hose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by L-Webb View Post
    In august.. Really? How many feet of snow do y'all get in a season?

    and how in the hell do you operate in it?
    The snow in Summer is up on the Continental Divide, usually above treeline (>12,000'). It is usually no more than a dusting that melts relatively quickly, but it does snow. Summer snows have been known to cause problem on the highways because people don't expect it and drive too fast.
    Annual snow fall in the valley is less than 30", but up at the local ski area, Monarch, it is about 350" on average.
    Fortunately for us, where the most snow is, the least people are, so we don't operate in deep snow very often. There are a lot of McMansions with driveways that are totally impassable in winter for fire equipment.
    We wear boot chains and drive slower in the winter. Our Engines and Tenders are fitted with OnSpot tire chains except for our Rescue which is 4 wheel drive. The top of Monarch Pass is 18 miles from my station and a 4000' climb in elevation so response can take over a half an hour or more in winter. We do work a lot of MVAs on Monarch because of people going to and from the ski area.

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    Good call slackjawedyokel, if you're on a plug with it open you can make an ice rink very quickly. For a while our dept, was training every new person to crack the fill/recirc valve every time they pumped no matter what. It led to a lot of ice rinks.
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    A well maintained tank to pump and tank fill valves are essential to cold weather operations. If your maintenance is a little slack, and you leave drains open on apparatus in the station, be sure to go around the apparatus and close all valves before leaving. Frequently a small amount of moisture remains in the open valve. This freezes when responding and prevents any drafting when a drain is frozen open. Also, a drain that has an ice plug can thaw while you are operating and you will loose the prime when working from a drop tank. For those with occasional cold weather operations (zero & below), taking a salvage cover and blocking wind from blowing under the apparatus will help keep panel gauges from freezing. A good pump operator needs to remember the rpm that results in a correct discharge pressure. Example: 1150 rpm might be where that engine develops 150 psi in pressure mode for supplying preconnects. Many of the companies here carry a propane torch on the engine to help with frozen valves. A BFH is rarely a good solution, because the usual result is a broken valve handle. If you are able to get recirculating tank water, it is possible to take the warmer water and dribble it on the frozen valve to thaw it out.

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