We are a rural volunteer department, with 24 members. While shuttling water to the scene, the valves and dumps often freeze up during harsh Wisconsin winters. I was just wondering if anyone knows of anything, that's not too expensive since we are on a tight budget, that we can spray on or apply to our valves, dumps, doors to keep them from freezing up between filling and dumping? Any help is appreciated.


Casco Fire Dept

Casco, Wisconsin

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When the temp gets below freezing we spray down every discharge, intake, and nozzle with antifreeze. We do this every nite right before we eat dinner. When there is precipitation (snow, Ice, freezing rain) we cover the intakes, and exposed nozzles with plastic baggies (typically trash bags). This keeps the snow and ice from freezing directly to the intake, or discharge, and also assits in keeping the road salt or sand dropped from the plows out of the moving parts. We also maintain a spray bottle of antifreeze on the rig in case something does freeze up. This really helps breaking down from the incident.

Something we also do for our pump which may or may not be kinda odd. We do not run our pump dry when its gets cold. Instead we engage the pump and circulate the water on every run while we are sitting still. The water moving and the collateral heat from the pump will more than keep the water from freezing. No matter what kind or technology of pump you have there is no way to ensure that you have gotten all the water out of it. A little bit of water is worse than a whole lot.

When the snow goes away we will detail the rig and do a complete overhaul of all the moving parts with penetrating lub.
If it's below freezing we turn on the pump before we leave the station (if you have engines/tenders that have dual pump & drive capabilities), so that helps keep them warm. And there is a "pump heater" switch which helps... but in the colder nights in Montana... it doesn't help much. We've started pushing in the "Tank-Fill-&-Recirculation" (I think that's the one... don't quote me on it) lever part way, therefore restricting the valve opening which causes friction and heat. We use it to keep our pump (and therefore the valves, etc. on the pump) from freezing in the 0° type cold.

Also, we put antifreeze in the preconnected lines on our bumper hose bed (essentially the only lines we use).
A spray lube should still help with the freezing factor, but the other option may be using more of a grease (something like a white grease or similar) to the door and dogs, which should last a cold freeze.

Otherwise think spring.....last few days have been pretty nice.
The issue is that such a detergent can and has caused problems in the past, even if you haven't experienced anything, yet. That is why it is important to check with a mfg etc before just arbitrarily doing something like that.

The other issue is that a detergent in the tank doesn't do anything for the outside operations of valves, dumps, etc. The amount of water compared to detergent will still freeze.

What you are referring to is for a pumper and keeping the pump from freezing up. The issue is is regarding water shuttle operations and issues with valves and dumps freezing up on a tanker.
Where are the valves in question? We use the same method for the Water Tenders that we use for shuttling water (we don't have many hydrants available in our district)... keep the "Tank-Recirc" valve only partially opened to create heat which both keeps the pump warmer and heats up the water and keeps anything the water comes in contact with from freezing up as much. As far as I understand at least...
In Finland http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finland

I live in southern parts of Finland, so it´s only -26°C. At northern parts, this winter record low temp is -43,1°C
Thank you very much for the insight and it makes perfect sense. I know that as far as detergent in the the water cans, I can attest to that. It increases the water's surface area and cooling properties but as far as detergent into the booster tanks of the apparatus, I think that I'll leave this to the Engine Officers to decide and I'll stick to the Truck where I belong. Thank you again for the insight!
Agree with Ted, that would be my guess as well, the issue is not the water inside the tank, but the exterior valves and doors.
I live in southern parts of Finland, so it´s only -26°C. At northern parts, this winter record low temp is -43,1°C

And in Fahrenheit terms, that equals freaking cold.
Finn Volunteer, do the people who supply your apparatus take into account the hellish cold and add features or modify parts to help deal with that? Branching from that, what about you Mr. Charles? Did your department anticipate this problem before getting the tanker(s) that you're having problems with? I don't have any ideas for you, because we only run 5 tankers in the county, and the weather here, besides the freak snowpocolypse that happened this winter, are generally pretty mild, I'm just curious.
I can't speak for the OP's dept, but there are numerous fire apparatus manufacturers in the state of WI where the conditions are well known. The issue can be from a refurbish or just an older apparatus and plain wear and tear. The issue comes, from what I gather here, is residual water after a fill or dump freezing to the exterior components, thus making it difficult to fill/ dump the next time.

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