Winter Pump Operations?
OK Everyone.... Including you experts who write for FIREHOUSE!!!
How about some good guidelines regarding pump operations and maintenance for the winter...
This topic is argued about every year at my firehouse...
Lots of variables to think about....
Heated Apparatus Bay?
To Drain or Not to Drain?
How about some good guidelines.... unfortunately the manufactures aren't providing them and neither is IFSTA or NFPA...
Anyone out there have good ideas they can back up with facts?
i've also looked and you will be hard pressed to find facts, but, some insight to what i've built in the past, and most you will find from depts. in canada, most of what i say is for the winter operation for pumps, first is class one line heaters, just like water pipe wraps used in homes, class one uses this for gauge lines and other lines you wish to protect, also, alot of companies use pump pans incombination with engine heaters, the engine heaters are fan blown heaters plumbed into the diesel motors cooling system, and most that use this system also use two, one on each side of the pump compartment, now with the pump pan, one thing that helps is to make it big enough that the trucks exhaust goes through the pan so the heat from the exhaust also helps to keep the pump from freezing, as for maintenance, it is no different that what you should be doing now, i hope this helps some, as for operations outside the pump module, all i can say is keep the hose cracked.
Heated bays are good. Our 2 main pumpers have electric pump heaters and we don't drain the pump. It's dept. policy for the driver to circulate on a scene and verify the pump heater is on. Some have suggested leaving the tank to pump and recirc valves open to prevent standing water at the valves from freezing, but we haven't had any problems.
Our station is at 4848'. We get 200"+ snow and temps sub-zero to teens. It seems like this winter has been especially cold. Shoveling snow to get the trucks out is the daily 7AM norm. Coffee and a shovel. We installed sunstar propane tube heaters adjacent to our trucks and keep the apparatus bay at 75 degrees. We start our trucks daily and run water through the pumps/recirculate the tank H20. The drains get cracked and let the junk flush out for a couple of seconds. We leave the water in the pump basically. Nozzles are kept in the open position. Caps and fittings are kept loose. Here is our theory: Water in the tank stays warm until we reach most fires, engine and pump compartment stays warm for the first few minutes on the road. Keeping warm water in the pump allows more time from freezing. Here is what we learned the hard way: any moisture in the couplings and you need Hercules, stuff breaks when it's cold and you force it,it's no fun to get into a fire and have a frozen nozzle, people look really hard at you when you are kicking the nozzle to break the handle free, broken handle from kicking = trip to the engine for another nozzle-even stranger looks from the guys. You can shove the nozzle into the fire or camp out by the exhaust until stuff unthaws. Hoseline stretches will freeze and burst at the couplings just when you need them the most. We try and keep H20 flowing unless we are in a condo or home and we are trying to minimize H20 damage, all outside lines etc. flow until we are done.
We replace a broken nozzle every couple of years from the "cold".
There was a pretty interesting article in firehouse.com on Antartica FF's. Interestingly enough we have yet to have a freeze problem w/our remote nozzle on the aerial...makes you wonder?