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Thread: A Question For Those Running Dry Pumps In The Cold.

  1. #1
    Forum Member FFWALT's Avatar
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    Default A Question For Those Running Dry Pumps In The Cold.

    For those of you that run dry pumps in cold weather. Since you don't have to worry about your pump freezing do you worry about your tank to pump and tank fill lines freezing?

    Pondered this question last night as I was staged during a call and engaged my pump to circulate water since the temp was 10 degrees. In my mind it would take less time for the tank to pump line or tank fill line to freeze than an entire pump filled with water due to the mass of the metal and water that probably started at at least 50 degrees when you left the station.

    I'm not questioning your departments choice to run a dry pump. I only know about wet pumps because that is what we run and we haven't had problems. Just something I wanted to ask.

    Thanks,
    Walt
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    Short answer is YES. Anytime you are in the cold, there is a concern about freezing piping or pumps filled with water. We run pump house heaters, but not belly pans, so when moving there is some concern about freezing the T to P line, valve & check. There is a saving grace in that the mass of the tank water along with short line (about 6") on all except the quint, keeps the valve thawed out for most runs. Fear with a full pump is freezing enough to split the pump casting or drain sump. Was 3rd due on a chimney fire with the temp standing at 8 degrees. Pump house heater was on, but we sat on the main road for about an hour with no water circulating. Run was about 5 miles, but main pump drain opened readily when I checked before returning to service.

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    We certainly worry about it. We run pump house heaters and belly pans so if we are out for a short run we don't have as much to worry about. If we will be sitting for an extended period of time, usually longer than an hour, we will engage the pump and circulate water. Works well for us, the only time we've actually had a line freeze was on a poorly designed direct tank fill off the back.

    We do have one exception in that our 2nd Engine has a Crossmount pump so the motor for that pump acts as the heater for the pump house. Anytime it's below freezing the pump is started before we leave the station. This is also the truck we have problems with the tank fill freezing.
    Last edited by FF715MRFD; 03-02-2014 at 08:13 AM. Reason: My mobile device makes me angry.......

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    Our SOP is that in any below freezing weather, for any pump that's not in use, circulate water. That begins on arrival at the incident and continues until you take up and return.

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    On my career dept. we run with wet pumps and recirculate with the tanks. (central Oh.) On my POC dept we put a couple of gallons of RV anitfreeze in the pump and just run the pump with the valves closed.

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    With a pump house heater and belly pan in place we froze the pump and most of the valving up on our Engine/Tender after a training burn in December. It was less than a 30 minute drive back to quarters and it took us well over an hour using hot water to thaw the pump enough to allow it to drain. We normally run dry pumps, if need be we will bypass the tank water onbard and go right to drafting with the first due tender if valves freeze.

    This is actually one of the reasons I was asking about booster heaters like on crash trucks for a possible addition to our new engine.
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    Forum Member FFWALT's Avatar
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    A few of our apparatus have heaters, a few don't. A few also have heaters and a heat pan. So far the only problem we have had is with a foam line freezing. Of course this is a small, plastic line that is wet but doesn't have water flowing through it. In this weather we also run with discharge & intake drains open because it is easier to close the drain when flowing water than to try and thaw a line.

    The reason for this thread it to get different points of view and in no way am I attempting to question your departments choice of operations. With that said, why bother draining the pump after each call? Our apparatus come out of a 60 degree bay and in this weather we circulate water as soon as we are on scene. As I stated before, wouldn't it take longer for a pump containing 30-50 gallons of 60 degree water longer to reach the point of freezing than a dry pump due to the amount of mass that has to cool to the point of freezing? Wouldn't this also help keep your tank to pump and tank fill lines from freezing?

    Also, and like FyredUp experienced, I get concerned when shutting down after operating on a scene in this weather. By the time you are shutting down everything is just flat out cold. In those instances I am a fan of draining the pump on scene. Then when you are back somewhere warm and putting the truck back in service you refill the tank and pump.

    Just my thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Walt
    Train like you want to fight.
    www.kvfd.net

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFWALT View Post
    A few of our apparatus have heaters, a few don't. A few also have heaters and a heat pan. So far the only problem we have had is with a foam line freezing. Of course this is a small, plastic line that is wet but doesn't have water flowing through it. In this weather we also run with discharge & intake drains open because it is easier to close the drain when flowing water than to try and thaw a line.

    The reason for this thread it to get different points of view and in no way am I attempting to question your departments choice of operations. With that said, why bother draining the pump after each call? Our apparatus come out of a 60 degree bay and in this weather we circulate water as soon as we are on scene. As I stated before, wouldn't it take longer for a pump containing 30-50 gallons of 60 degree water longer to reach the point of freezing than a dry pump due to the amount of mass that has to cool to the point of freezing? Wouldn't this also help keep your tank to pump and tank fill lines from freezing?

    Also, and like FyredUp experienced, I get concerned when shutting down after operating on a scene in this weather. By the time you are shutting down everything is just flat out cold. In those instances I am a fan of draining the pump on scene. Then when you are back somewhere warm and putting the truck back in service you refill the tank and pump.

    Just my thoughts.

    Thanks,
    Walt
    One of the major reasons we run dry pumps is that we run Pumper/Tankers so, unless we're 1st due, we're not sure if we will be pumping or tending water. Not having to drain the pump before it freezes is one less thing for the Engineer to worry about/remember if we have to run as a Tanker instead of pumping.

    I would also think that it would take a pump full of 60 degree water longer to freeze than a dry one.
    It is also our SOG to open all drains after shutting down the pump, no matter the season. We run dry pumps year round.

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    Has anyone that runs dry pumps ever experienced a pump that got so cold on the way to the scene (or any time after) that when you opened the tank to pump valve that the water froze to the sides of the piping and pump casting to the point that the pump had issues? It's a concern that has been voiced in our department during the insane cold spells this winter.

    For the most part we run wet and will circulate water if we are sitting on scene in cold weather for very long.

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    We ran a fire a few weeks ago when the temp was minus 20 with the wind chill. Our rig sat in staging for 4 hours and the driver just ran a 2 1/2 from the discharge back to the intake and flowed at idle. We had no issues at all.

  11. #11
    Forum Member FFWALT's Avatar
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    Firehouse Chef78,

    Unless circulating water from a single pumps discharge to intake is something taught in your department, pat that operator on the back. Our department just circulates water from the tank to the pump and back to the tank so that is something I've never heard of. But that set up definitely shows an operator (vs. driver) that really understands what he's doing.

    I would also like to thank all of you for your input and views. It provided the information I was wanting and most importantly did not delve into a "right way vs. wrong way" argument.

    Take care,
    Walt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Firehouse Chef78 View Post
    We ran a fire a few weeks ago when the temp was minus 20 with the wind chill. Our rig sat in staging for 4 hours and the driver just ran a 2 1/2 from the discharge back to the intake and flowed at idle. We had no issues at all.
    Not to be a Richard, but it's my pet peeve: Wind Chill has no effect on inanimate objects, it is merely a number given to what it feels like. If it ain't alive, it don't feel, if it don't feel then the actual temperature is all it is. Thus it could be blowing 40 mph with a windchill of 20 F, but water won't freeze as the air temp is still 35 F. My petty BS aside, circulating the pump/tank every time is what we do.

    There is one (minor) way wind can have an affect, but I'll leave that for a pop quiz...

  13. #13
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    a point that hasn't been brought up is that often times it is the small control sensor tubing lines or guage lines that freeze first. most of these are small 1/4" or 3/8" poly tubing which freezes quickly.
    Most modern pump control system rely on these sensors to make control decisions instead of the old style manual governors or pressure relief valves.
    Pump houses need a lot of make up heater capability. Ours has a55000 btu fan forced unit off the engine cooling system, in addition to belly pan enclosure . makes it nice to thaw hands from the heat coming out of the top mount pump panel .

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    This winter we had extremely cold temps. We have problems on some app with leaky tank to pump valves so we circulate the water when out. We did have a fire call and a Quint had the pump drained on it. When the Quint arrived on the fire scene it was staged and the operator decided to charge the pump and circulate water and found the tank to pump pipe frozen. The Engine that ran out of the same station had the pump kept wet and had no problem. So, that sold me on keeping the pump wet and circulating water when not pumping!
    roadmd

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