This week we have seen several pumps and booster/wildland units freeze during operations in the winter storm and we have received several requests from customers asking about precautions to protect their apparatus during the freeze conditions we are experiencing. Here are some recommendations to prevent freeze damage to your apparatus and pumps.

  • Be sure that all the drains on the discharges have been opened and are clear of any water. Then securethem closed and dry.
  • Red lines or booster reels on major apparatus should have air blow down valves. Be sure that the dischargevalve is closed, and the nozzle is open and utilize the air to evacuate the water from the booster reel. It is bestto stretch the line out and blow it down. If there is no blow down valve available, stretch and walk down theline to drain it with nozzle open. The reels on the top of the engines or boosters are more susceptible to freezeand when you open the discharge all the ice that has formed in the bottom of the hose will plug up your lineand most times damage the nozzle.
  • Be sure that you do not have any leaking cross lay valves or did not have that OOPS pulled the wronghandle incident. The water will freeze in the hose and sometimes make it almost impossible to even pull it offthe truck let alone get water. Drain it before you get outside and re rack your lines. Be sure your handles arefully shut.
  • You can run a dry pump that requires you to drain every drop of water out of the pump. That meansopening all the discharges and drains. This includes the master drain and remember you never try to open themaster drain when there is pump pressure on the pump. If you have a leaking tank-to-pump valve this will putwater in your pump. Unless it is a bad leak it will be a small factor because the pump should seal itself otherthan the leak. You can use the auxiliary discharge to drain the pump. If the leak is bad, but put that high onyour to-do list to fix once we survive this weather
  • If you are going to have to run a wet pump be sure that as soon as you get on scene you engage the pumpand always run water, especially if you are blocking on the freeway. When you engage your pump also openyour tank refill about an 1/8 to 1/4. This will keep a larger amount of water in the pump and warm it up. Besure to monitor the pump temps by checking the steamer connection for heat. Watch for any water leakingunder the truck so you do not create another ice obstacle for yourself when you are about to clear.
  • You can also engage your heat exchanger or pump cooler. In the summer, this device takes heat away forthe engine coolant via conduction. It uses pressure side water and flows thru the exchanger and strips heat away from the engine coolant and puts the hot water back in the pump. This is an advantage in the winter because you have an extra source to keep the water warm in the pump. Be sure to shut it off when clearing.
  • Even with the pump circulating if you have lines on the ground they can freeze. Red lines are the worst.
    Small 1-inch lines with no water moving and long stretches over snow or ice accelerates freezing. If you are on
    booster tank water, you cannot keep a nozzle open or you waste precious water, but that is an option when
    you are on a hydrant. Moving water is harder to freeze but watch where the water is going from open nozzles.
    Personnel slipping on ice we made is not cool.
  • Wildland or booster trucks with auxiliary pumps should be started if possible before leaving the station. The
    same applies to keeping water flowing and warm and you can use the tank fill to keep some back pressure on
    the pump. Be sure that your other valves are closed. These type units will also freeze the reel lines quickly.
  • Waterous has a guide on their website for freezing area ops and it is a good read.
  • The longer the response or the longer on scene time the worse the freeze risk becomes so keep water
    moving and get the unit either drained back to dry condition or back to the station as soon as possible.
  • With all the rolling blackouts and power outages, be alert to the fact that a pump or smaller plumbing can
    freeze in the station. If the heat fails at your station you need some source of additional heat.
  • You can contact some of your local contractors that have those on-site heaters and borrow them to keep
    the station warmer. If there is no power don’t forget your portable generators.
  • By now you have probably either toughed it out or had a set of tire chains.
  • I have directed several departments that did not have chains to contact the larger trucking companies in
    their district. If you have the tire size, they are always willing to help the local Fire Departments in a disaster.
    Most times here in Texas the trucks are parked in this weather whenever possible. A fire department challenge
    coin or a plaque after the disaster is money well spent and valuable PR.

Please contact us here at Siddons-Martin Service if we can be of service. Many of our SMEG staff members are firefighters and are out there exemplifying “Service before Self ”. Be Safe.

Contact Service Division

Siddons-Martin Emergency Group understands the critical tasks of getting your apparatus operational and back in service with the fastest turn-around possible. We start by listening to your needs, diagnosing the problem and getting the necessary parts on-time for repairs. Siddons-Martin is the factory authorized warranty service center for every brand we represent and can handle service and repair on every brand of emergency equipment. Give us a call at 866-792-0895. Our dedicated service team stand ready to assist you.