1. #1
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    Question Do you drain your pumps?

    An age old issue is still out there. I know it makes no sense to drain your pump in cold weather because it takes more time to freeze more water, but what is your opinion? What is your departments policy on draining pumps and cold weather operations?

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    No we don't.

    Our policy is to leave the pumps wet and on scene during extreme cold weather, if the unit is not pumping, we re-circulate the water thru the booster tank via the tank fill valve. We also carry 300,000 BTU salamander heaters that we use for extended ops.

    In 27 years, I've never seen a pump freeze while sitting on scene with the pump wet. I have however seen and heard of numerous pumps freezing because they were dry.
    These views/ opinions are my own and not those of my employer/ department.

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    Here's a variation on this question:

    I'll concede main fire pumps probably aren't likely to freeze in most areas. Their size and sitting in the station warm helps prevent that.

    What about our Service truck that has Darley Snuffer 80gpm (or 40gpm CAFS) pump. Truck runs on most calls, and within a few weeks will take over First Responder duties from the heavy rescue. I'm thinking probably a good idea to drain it due to small size and that it's more open to the elements than a midship pump...any input????

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    Smile

    We don't drain the pumps, but we do drain the intakes and discharges.

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    Follow the pump manufactures suggestions. Call them and tell them your situation. Hale says only drain if you stand a chance of freezing, otherwise leave wet. Call Darley or whoever and ask. They have seen it all probably, and from everywhere from tropics to tundra.
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    WE dont drain the pumps, we engage the pump and recirculate if out on a call in freezing temps. I see three negatives to draining pumps: 1. you wont have water in the tank for quick attack 2. The pump could freeze, seize, lose prime. 3. Hydrants might be frozen so if you dont have tank water youll have no water.

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    We keep the pumps wet all year, but drain the intakes and discharges. My opinion, it's the only way to go unless you keep your rig parked outside 24/7. If you ask the manufacturer they'll give you the lawyer response, not the practical one. Haven't seen one freeze in 18 years and that's from Chicago winters.
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    we do not drain pumps. our bay is heated, and if a truck is on a call, 9 times out of 10, the pump is flowing water. one down side of draining pumps is if it stays dry for very long, your gaskets may dry out and dry-rot if they do not get wet.

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    We have never drained our pumps during cold weather. Like others have stated, takes longer to freeze full than "empty". I don't care how hard you try, you will never get all of the water out of the pump, and with seepage from valves, etc. you will have a small amount of water in the pump housing anyway.

    Also, it takes valuable time to prime the pump if you lose it, and I don't know about the rest of you but with the age of our engines, we sometimes have problems with the primer switches sticking - that's why we keep several spares at the firehouse. Not pretty when you cannot get water cause the primer won't operate.
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    Thumbs up

    We don't drain the pumps unless the rig will be out of service and at the shops for a long period of time. The shop will drain them and use air to force any remaining water out. On several rigs that have booster lines that are under the cab steps, have a blow out feature to deplete any water in the hose if needed. Otherwise the operators are instructed to open the tank fill and circulate the water if necessary. The winters are that bad here but on occasion it has been bad.

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    Default BUMP TO THE TOP - THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN

    What do you do? Why?

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    We drain our pumps. Why? "We've done it that way for years....."

    I tried to get to the source of it this year. Of, course, ran into a brick wall. "We've always drained our pumps in the winter and never had one freeze."

    I was frustrated by this until I read the pump manual that came with our front line engine. An American pump (some offshoot of Hale) it said specifically to drain the pump if the engine will be operated in cold weather, just like firefighter430 said. So, I pulled all the drains.....(sigh)

    A caveat: Our engines have 1000 gal booster tanks. Pulling the tank-to-pump valve floods the pump quickly enough that getting prime has never been a problem (in fact, you can rarely hear the primers operate at our fires--- sometimes even when drafting!). The operator usually has prime and is ready to flow water before the attack team has the preconnect flaked completely out. The only problem I've experienced from this is a little extra air in the hoseline.

    I think this could go the way of the color-of-your-trucks argument. Some will be adamant about draining, some not. I think a better question might be, Has anyone ever froze a pump, and did you drain or not drain?
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    We don't drain ours either, unless the port-a-pump, or the vehicle are either going to be out of service for an extended period of time, or in the case of the vehicles, they have to sit outside the station because of renos. This hasn't happened, cuz we try to do our renos during the summer months. (so far anyway.)
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    Post Not here

    We do not here because it is too WARM.....

    But where I was in Virginia we used to drain the front mounted pumps and then covered them with a canvas to protect it further from wind and cold. If the weather was supposed to be sub freezing for several days with lots of wind which equals wind chill we sometimes drained the midship pumps...but rarely.
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    Im Michigan as you know we get some cold weather. We drain our pumps cause in most cases not all our engines are used at fires. In alot of cases there used to transport people. How ever on the other hand both our engines and our ladder are equiped with heaters in the pump panels witch puts heat on the pump to prevent freezing. The heater is on a toggle switch witch can be shut off during the summer. But i also understand the point of leaving them with water and leaving them circulate with water circulation they wont freeze up under most circumstances. The first thing you learn when fighting fire in the cold is ALWAYS leave your nozzle cracked and water flowing to prevent freeze up.. so initialy leaving your pumps circulate is doing the same thing..
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    The wildland engine assigned to me sits outside...in my driveway. And since the temperature was a brisk 18 degrees last night...well, I hope I drained the tank, pump, hose and plumbing thoroughly...or the boss is gonna be REAL upset when the pipes crack.

    Yes...we drain ours, as most all the engines remain outside at the engine boss' homes.
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    we drain our pumps in the winter as well for the same ol same ol reason......been doin it for so long thats what we do ......
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    Lightbulb

    We keep the pumps wet all the time. In the winter we put heat pans on the pumps and drain and antifreeze the discharges. When a engine will be outside in freezing temps for a while we re-circulate the pump. All our pumps are mid ship. I have seen front mounted pumps freeze in the winter, I would drain them.

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    When we leave a truck anywhere that might remain outside overnight (i.e. for service) We drain pumps AND tanks and leave all drains open.

    When in service and temps are below freezing for extended times we drain pumps and leave drains closed.

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    We keep wet pumps all year round. If it is below freezing, we circulate the water back into the tank.

    Like someone said, follow the directions by the pump people.

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    Being the northern most responder to the thread (so far), we keep our pumps wet all year. As others have written, if we are out in below freezing weather for a sustained amount of time, we engage the pump and circulate the booster tank water. We get our share of frozen drain lines but so far no problems with a pump freezing.
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    Thumbs up Drain em!

    I always drain the pumps in freezing weather. Drain the intakes, discharges, blow the booster reels with air, and don?t forget the lines to the your panel gauges. If your valves seep as most do, leave your drains open. They make great vents to let that air out when you pull the tank to pump.

    I see the logic in a pump filled with water would take longer to cool. How do you freeze a dry pump?

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Drain em!

    Originally posted by TriTownship600
    How do you freeze a dry pump?
    It's never completely dry. Even if you drain it, there will still be some residual water inside. It and the water vapor can condense and freeze much faster than 40ish gallons of water can. No, it won't be one big block of ice if it's drained, but valves and the innards of the pump could indeed freeze.

    The fact that departments in Alaska leave them wet and don't have problems is enough evidence for me.

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    Default draining pumps in cold weather

    Yes up here in Montreal Canada pumps are
    kept dry during the winter. Yes they will
    freeze if not in use at a fire. Like everything else, cold is a relative thing.
    I saw some posts say they have never seen
    a pump freeze.It is common up here during the coldest months of the winter normally
    January and February.
    After draining just the pump(not the tank)
    all is left to dry then a pull on the primer to oil everything up and close
    all valves and drains.
    At -30 degrees drains will freeze-up
    on route to the call.If you have to draft
    with drains frozen open good luck!

    I guess this isn't a problem in Florida.

  25. #25
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    Talking NO..............

    We do not drain our pumps. Why? Because I am the Chief and I said so. Well, that is not exactly the reason, but I've always wanted to say that. We don't drain pumps on a regular basis, but, if something is going out for service, we drain the whole system,tank, lines, and pump, and blow the lines out with air where possible. Booster reels aren't a problem, there is a 3/4 line on the brush rig and thats the only one. We haven't spec'd a reel on an engine since 1965. If a unit is caught out on a run for an extended time we run the pump to circulate water thru the pump and tank. Stay Safe....
    Last edited by hwoods; 12-15-2002 at 07:41 PM.
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