1. #1
    Forum Member
    WestTac1's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Round Rock, TX

    Default De-Icing Fire Apparatus At Fire Scenes?

    Many of us have seen photos of fire apparatus encrusted in ice after a fire (I've seen many from Chicago) or have heard stories about ladders not being able to retract due to ice, etc.

    If you take a look at the photo below, they are de-icing an aircraft. I was wondering if there was a smaller version of the device that could be used at a fire scene, or if you could "special request" these units from the airporrt?

    Also, does anyone know what the chemical is and it's enviromental hazards that would prohibit it from being used "on the street".

    (Photo by me)
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    Last edited by WestTac1; 02-18-2008 at 08:16 AM.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2002


    If I am not mistaken they use some form of glycol which leads me to believe you would need some sort of recovery system to prevent the liquid from going down the strom drains.

  3. #3
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    nmfire's Avatar
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    Nov 2002
    Maryland (DC Suburb)


    Those de-icing trucks you're seeing are spraying a high pressure heated (150+ degrees F) mix of water and propylene glycol. The pressure and heat help bust through ice and snow and the mixture itself lowers the freezing point of water to around -50*C to effectively de-ice an aircraft. This for removal of built up ice and snow and will prevent new ice and snow build up for a variable amount of time. If the ice and snow is still falling, it is usually enough time for the plane to taxi and take-off.

    A longer time than that requires ANTI-ICE application. This is essentially the same glycol mix however it is unheated and is kinda thicker so it hangs around longer. This is applied after the above described DE-ICING.

    Once airborne, most airliners and many smaller advanced aircraft have anti-ice systems and de-ice systems built into the leading edges of the wings and propellers to combat ice formation in clouds. This consists of inflatable boots to bust the ice loose, heated surfaces, and weeping that same glycol anti-ice mix onto the surfaces in flight.

    For apparatus, there is really no efficient way to keep the truck free of ice. We're talking about a constant water fog or spray in very sub-freezing temperatures which is not something aircraft are subjected to on the ground. Sure you could DE-ICE it like an airplane. But short of heating the body of the truck or heating the ladder, there isn't much you can spray on as an ANTI-ICE that will last very long in those conditions.

    If you call the right person at an airport, you might convince them to send you a de-icing truck provided someone can arrange to pay the bill. That stuff is expensive, to the tune $5-10 per gallon of concentrate.

    Propylene glycol is pretty much non-toxic unlike the now less popular ethylene glycol.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2005
    So of Can. / N. of Mexico

    Cool Boston De-Iceing

    You Nor-Easters need to help my memory, but didn't years ago all Boston pumpers carry a steam cleaner in the center rear compartment for de-iceing hose and ladders after a call? I don't believe they carry on newer rigs?

  5. #5
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    Mar 2007


    Some of the guys in MA say they just leave the trucks where they are, and come back to get them after the spring after the thaw.


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