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    Question Winter operations

    This question is for you guys to the north. At what temp do you begin to have problems with your apparatus, hose, etc. when the weather gets cold? We are expecting 10 degrees over the next few nights and we really have never operated much at these temps. (O.K. don't laugh too much, thats more like spring time for some of you!)
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    Most FD's will circulate the water through the pump when the temp drops below freezing by opening the tank to pump and tank fill valves.
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    During FF operations don't shut you nozzles completely off. If you do you could end up with a frozen line or worse.

    It's a bitch repacking hose that is as stiff as a 2X4

    -bob-

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    If you have rollup doors,salt and sand gets in there really fouls the door up so it maybe hard to open.

    We also have a spray bottle of full strength anti-freeze in the engineers cabinet. When we are done we give a little spray on the threads and inside the discharge or intake and replace the caps.
    Last edited by stm4710; 12-23-2004 at 10:27 PM.
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    You know all that water that ends up on the ground around the building/car/whatever was on fire and around the trucks when you remove caps or overfill?? I hope you have a strong tailbone because you will inevitably end up on your rear end at some point.

    the soaking wet outer jacket of the hose will of course be frozen. Drain lines on the pump can freeze. Basicly, any water that isn't moving, expect it to freeze.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    At what temp do you guys start to see the problems?
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    Like CaptainGonzo said we circulate our pumps and then also crack open the nozzle to keep water running through the hose so it won't freeze up.

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    It is 18 below zero as I type this. Plan on nothing working right that way it wont be as bad as you expected. Don't run wet pumps, know your apparatus and where to start looking if it doesn't work right. Know your flows and pressures at different engine RPM because water pressure gauges may freeze-up. You may see problems with air brakes on the trucks. If you are not running number 1 fuel you may have problems with fuel gelling up, if it falls bellow 40 degrees below zero you may actually have problems with number 1 gelling. Have diesel fuel conditioner, spare fuel filters and filter wrench on board. Primers can give you problems too.

    We carry propane torches on our trucks to thaw valves or other things that become frozen. Be very careful with heating valves and pump components. Another good heat source for thawing something out is quartz hallogen lights.

    Have spare clothing available and dress in layers. You may also want to find a pair of leather mittens, the kind that you can put multiple liners in. SCBA's can also give you concern, have heard of regulator freeze-up and manual low pressure alarm freeze-up.

    Fires during cold weather sucks! Go on vacation!

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    For practical purposes, freeze-up starts becoming a serious immediate concern after temps go below 20F. Obviously 32F is the starting point if you're talking about extended periods of time outside.

    We keep all pumps dry in the winter, and then once on scene open the tank-to-pump and pump fill valves, and put the pump in gear to keep the water moving. This is done on all calls where the engine is outside, whether you need the water or not. When the call is complete, we drain the pump again before returning to quarters. When possible, park apparatus so that drained water will not form an unsafe sheet of ice on any roadways.

    We thaw couplings under the truck's exhaust, but I am sure this is not the smartest thing to do unless you're wearing SCBA. I liked toddman's idea of putting them in front of the halogen work lights, I will bring this up at our next meeting.... not sure how I feel about a blowtorch.

    I have found that oil-dry ("kitty litter") is a better instantaneous anti-slip solution, since fresh rock salt on ice can be kind of like walking on marbles sometimes. Rock salt is most effective after having had a few hours to melt the ice, but when you need traction *now* and for a short term (medicals?), try it out for yourself and see if it works for you, too.

    Cold weather also drives home the critical necessity that used SCBAs are *thoroughly* dry after washing before being placed back into service. Ice crystals in your mask are not fun. Wipe a napkin or kleenex damp (not soaked!) with antifreeze on the inside glass (avoid the rubber) of the SCBA mask before donning, and it will help prevent - or at least delay - a glaze from forming inside the glass from your breath and evaporated facial sweat.

    After the hoses are broken up, keep the nozzles in the heated cab to keep them from freezing up until you return to quarters and reassemble the hose lays. Also, we keep extra sets of attack and supply hose at the station for after freezing fires.... we dump the wet/frozen hose into a pickup truck and then lay it out in the station so it can thaw/melt/drain, the extra hose is put in service until the first set is ready to go - alternating back and forth as needed.

    Keep lots of chemical hand warmer packs around to slip into gloves and boots. Obviously, keep a spare set of dry clothes at the station, on the rig, or in your gear bag - at the very least dry socks, a sweatshirt and a stocking cap.

    And oh yeah, DRIVE SLOW!

    Will post more thoughts if they materialize. Stay safe!
    Last edited by RLFD14; 12-24-2004 at 08:04 PM.

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    Good thread; I have learned a few things tonight. Thanks,people

    I have found that oil-dry ("kitty litter") is a better instantaneous anti-slip solution, since fresh rock salt on ice can be kind of like walking on marbles sometimes
    Gonna try that one, for sure.

    Another good heat source for thawing something out is quartz hallogen lights.
    Does that really work or are you pulling my boot?

    Wipe a napkin or kleenex damp (not soaked!) with antifreeze on the inside of the SCBA mask before donning, and it will help prevent (or at least delay) a glaze from forming inside the glass from your breath and evaporated facial sweat.
    --Would antifreeze void the warranty if something happened to the mask?

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    Originally posted by ROOKIELZ
    --Would antifreeze void the warranty if something happened to the mask?
    That is a VERY good question..... it works for us, but I will have to change my official position on this to "try at your own risk". Auto antifreeze doesn't seem to hurt rubber coolant hoses in cars, but I am no chemist, either. I also failed to specify that you should apply the antifreeze only to the inside glass, not all over.
    Last edited by RLFD14; 12-24-2004 at 02:29 AM.

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    We've always had a tub of oil dry and salt mixed for winter use. Works well for when we have to get a person on a cot down a slippery sidewalk or something similar, and the county highway department doesn't seem to mind us "borrowing" their salt.

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    The reason I am asking is because I suggested this once and got tromped on HARD. The main message (and a valid one) was never do anything to your mask that may affect it's operation or the warranty. The only thing I could do for the guys once they frosted up was hold them over the truck's defrost system. It was time-consuming and I would like a better system for "the boys."

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    Don't wash the truck right after returning to quarters, the water will freeze to all metal body surfaces in sheets. No fun having glaze ice on the diamond plated footholds, and compartment doors and handles frozen shut. Live with the dirt for a few hours, or run hot water through your garden hose if you really can't wait - even then you'd need to run a lot of it to warm up the body above freezing where I live.

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    The following came from a war story, not my expierience:

    Make sure you keep the the fittings your carry on the tailboard or outside the truck in the OPEN position. I guess what happend was they had a gated wye attached to the rear tailboard. After they washed the appartaus they got a call and it was filled with water and froze on the way to the call.

    If you wash the appartaus ,you should take a towel and dry the rubber seal on the side doors. I guess after you wash it, water hangs out in there for a while and will freeze on the way to a call. The guy said it wasnt so much hard.....a good tug will open it but it tears off the rubber seal.
    Last edited by stm4710; 12-24-2004 at 03:25 AM.
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    Yes, the quartz hallogen light thing actually does work. Those things get hot, go turn one on and put your hand about six inches away from it.

    A couple more little tricks: have isopropal alcohol (gas line antifreeze)and or WD-40 stored in the cab (or somewhere warm) works good for couplings and nozzles. Be careful around fire with this stuff.

    Another thing to keep in mind; if you are using PPV on a structure/house and the damage is minimal don't freeze up the plumbing by letting the fan run for longer than needed. But, as always, keep FF safety in mind. One other note about PPV during the cold...the fan may try to slide away from where you placed it...ice. If this happens...you just found another use for wheel chocks or the halligan tool.

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    Another couple tips;

    Use the exhaust to thaw frozen fittings, nozzles, etc.

    If we're on scene for a long amount of time, we try to run all the gas or diesel engines that we have there to keep them from staying cold. Doesn't matter whether it's a generator or a chainsaw..We try to start everything and run everything for a short time just in case we need it.

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    Excellent thread guys, lots of good ideas! I hope we don't have to use them over the next couple of days.
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    If it's a cold day and the road that your on with the trucks turns to ice, and happens to be on a hill (this is from personal experience), 1st, make sure the darned truck won't slide...we ended up chocking all the wheels...and ended up using the "dead" hoselines that were laying on the ground as a way to pull ourselves up the hill. worked out great. just grab onto the hose and do a hand over hand method to slide/walk your way up the sheet of ice. The guys down below were looking at us like we're crazy (not the 1st time that night at the fire) but when they tryed walking up the hill, the 1st thing they did was grab the hose.
    The comments made by me are my opinions only, not of the Fire and EMS services I am affiliated with.

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    Thanks, Weruj1. Atleast I didn't beat a dead horse (perhaps just a pony) That second link was funny.....LMAO. I noticed that the thread from 2001 had very few people that are still around today on the forums.
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    Here is a tip that I have used in the past for the SCBA masks .... wash them with everyday dish or hand soap .... rinse gently with COLD water and allow to air dry which leaves a very thin film on the lenses and really does help prevent the lense from fogging. This si something I learned long ago while skiing competitivly as I used to use it on my glasses and ski goggles.
    Here is another personal tip and this one is gonna sound very strange, but it works. Before ya put your socks on, wipe your foot with some anti-persperaint. It slows down the sweating process, which keeps your socks drier and in turn, keeps your feet warmer since the drier socks wicks away less heat from the foot. It does make a difference during those extended operations.
    PS ... Don't let the LA fool ya ... northern boy born and raised.

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    PS ... Don't let the LA fool ya ... northern boy born and raised.
    Damn well better be!

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    Another good winter-time use for quartz lights:

    Put some on your patients in vehicle rescues. I know it's bright as hell, but it help keeps them warm. Be sure to cover them with lots of heavy blankets. We also carry some extra ski-caps and some extra pairs of those cheaper knitted gloves that you can get at the store to use on patients wherever possible. Anything to help keep em warm, since most people don't drive in their full winter get-up.
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