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Winter Operations: The Engine

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW is it cold outside and it is not going to get any warmer for a long long time. If you remember I posted a couple of weeks ago about some Winter Operations tips for the Firefighter http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2010/11/07/winter-operations-the-firefighter/

In that post I said I would also put some tips out about operations to make the Engine behave the way you want it to in this weather, so here they are:

1. Like anything in life preparation is key. One of the key survival portions of winter operations is the function of the nozzles, hoses, discharges and intakes. One of the things we do to keep these items in good working order is to keep a spray bottle of pure antifreeze on the rig. When the temperature drops below freezing we “pre treat” the exposed fittings, and nozzles with a liberal coat of antifreeze. This will allow them to be free and in working order in freezing temperatures upon your arrival. The spray bottle will assist you when it comes time to re rack the hose. If a coupling is frozen spray some antifreeze on it and it usually loosens up. This is especially help full when disconnecting hydrant connections.

2. Whenever precipitation is failing cover the exposed intakes, and nozzles with a plastic bag. This will keep the precipitation from building up on the outside, and allow you to use them upon your arrival. If your road department is liberal with the sand, or road salt keep these bags on for an extended period of time. The bag will prevent the road grime from impregnating the moving parts allowing them to remain in service.

3. This one is a huge debate, dry pumps. A lot of companies try to run with a dry pump when the temperature drops below freezing. However no matter the make or model of your fire engine and pump configuration there is no way to ensure that you have gotten all the water out of the pump. A little water in the pump is just as bad as a lot of water in the pump. A better solution would be whenever you are on an incident scene engage your pump and circulate your water. Moving water does not freeze, and the heat from the pump will keep the water warm enough to prevent freezing.

4. Once the winter weather is over and a majority of the road grime is gone you need to detail you engine. Every nozzle, intake, discharge, etc. needs to be washed, lubed, and serviced. This will ensure that all of these items are still in good working order and are undamaged from the harsh weather.

Make no mistakes about it winter weather is very challenging for firefighters, and apparatus alike. However met with the proper preparation and attitude you can overcome it.

If you have any tips, please leave them in the comments section.

Just a FYI as the holiday season approaches I will be getting busier and busier, I’ll be out-of-town until Sunday and next week I have EMS Continuing Education Class, so blogging will be at a minimum. Thanks to all of you who read and enjoy what I have to say, I really enjoy writing it and I’m glad people enjoy reading it. Hopefully even if you do not agree you’re getting something out of it, and taking it to your shift, or station and talking about the topics. Please keep spreading the word, and stay safe out there!

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