Day Light Savings Time is always the time that we stress to check your smoke detectors and change out the batteries. Here at Siddons-Martin we would like to add to this yearly ritual to our customers. Its time to check the Tire Chains. Last year we all survived what was termed the “Snow Mageddan”. Many Fire Departments found themselves scrambling to locate the proper size Tire Chains.  If you had the Insta Chains on your rigs it was a matter of just throwing the switch. If you were like most of us, you had to go into the storage building or to maintenance and find the right set. Then you hopefully had that old Salty driver that had put chains on the rigs before and could show all the new guys how it was done. The time to locate new chains is not 2 days before the anticipated storm. Let’s get them while the weather is nice and there is some lead time to acquire some new chains and get proficient installing them on all our rigs. If you wait till last minute, you might not get lucky and if you find the right set before the storm they might as well be Gold plated in pricing.

Here is a short list of things to consider before the storm:

  • While the weather is nice get out your sets of snow chains and spread them out.
  • These chains should be matched to the rigs or at least matched to the tire size on the intended rig for use.
  • Now is the time to look for broken links or abraded chains.
  • Check all links to be sure they are attached and properly crimped.
  • If they were stored properly someone should have at least sprayed them with WD40 so you don’t have a hunk of rusty chain.
  • Chains should have been hung up and marked with what rig they go on and or tire size.
  • Now is the time to be sure you have the Cam tool to tighten the chains up. I used to paint all of these tools fluorescent orange and when the chains were stored we zip tied the tool to the chain.
  • Some departments use dual chains instead of the single chain on the outside wheel. Look at the dual chains and spread them out and check the center chain. These chains are more susceptible to pulling out the center links.
  • Have a class with everyone on how to inspect tire chains. Google and YouTube have plenty of different videos on inspection and installation. They show you how to put chains on without lifting the truck and the old roll on the block method.
  • If you choose the Pull up on Block method with rear duals, be sure you have the ramps where they won’t move and do the wheels one at a time.
  • Once you have properly trained the troops how to install these chains double check to see that everything is squared away.
  • Find the rubber tire Chain Spyder. Before stretching it out be sure that it is not brittle or dry rotted. It’s better to locate a bad one before stretching it than to have it pop and smack you in the mouth.
  • Many folks use a few Bungee straps and make their own Spyder’s. They help keep the chains on the sidewalls tight.
  • Before running the truck with chains. BE SURE YOU HAVE ADEQUATE CLEARANCE IN THE FENDERWELL. Nothing destroys a truck body faster than a chain that gets hung up on something in the fender well and starts ripping big pieces out.
  • Brief all new drivers that snow chains are made to run on snow. Speeds must be adjusted to conditions and snow chains should not be run on dry pavements. The chains can come loose, break, or drag and ultimately catastrophically fail with real expensive consequences.
  • Know how to safely remove a broken chain set and be sure you have plenty of spares for each size rig and or tire.If you have Insta Chains or On-Spots on your rigs take a minute and look for the following:
  • Be sure the air chambers will function and not leak, or half deploy.
  • Be sure all air lines are intact.
  • Be sure that they are lubed. Some units have a grease zert that needs attention prior to the winter.
  • Exercise the units and be sure that they come all the way back every time.
  • Check your chain wheels and be sure bolts on the chains to the wheel are tight and all the chains are on the wheel. Missing chains can keep you from getting traction when the units are deployed.
  • Watch for obstructions under the truck when deploying.

In a pinch you can contact local trucking companies that may have spare chains you can borrow or replace later. Get good heavy-duty tire chains or cable chains. Get them early so the cost and or shipping is manageable off season. The bargain chains wont last so be sure you buy quality products from reputable dealers and tell them its going on emergency equipment. It’s like anything else. We train to be ready, and we try to anticipate any scenario, so we are prepared. Adopt the check the chains in November like we do the batteries in the smoke detectors, and you will always have plenty of time to have the gear and the folks ready.

Jim Faulkner

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.