Does anyone have any good tips or war stories concerning fighting stucture fires in sub-zero weather?

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I have fought many structure fires in below -25 temps. Anything specific I can help with. There are lots of issues to deal with - personnel, pumper, water supply, hose lines, safety around the equipment - especially with water shuttle ops, equipment failures, rehab, etc..

Feel free to email -

Chris. :)
Old topic, but worth a response! I work in a department that during wintertime sees a lot of fires in extreme weather, our most extreme last winter was -37*F without windchill and about -46 with windchill accounted for. So I do have quite a bit of experience there. email me if you still have questions or want some ideas. Here's one we learned a hard way a long while ago - don't just recirculate your pumps. If you are running supply lines (i.e. nurse tanker, or a siamese supply setup at end of long driveway), you need to run a second line back to the supply apapratus as well. This allows you to keep water circulating through the supply lines and keep them from freezing. Idle pressure is fine when circulating water through the supply lines, but it's essential.

Oh, and if your crew shuts the bale all the way, write that line off. It's frozen solid at -37 in about the time it took you to read this sentence. Train your crews at -10 to keep the nozzles cracked (where water flows away from structure) when not in use.

There's other tips, too ... but it warmed back up to 50 so I don't recall them right away.

Preperation, preperation, preperation. Where i live in western NY we see our share of winter time structure fires.  My old dept and my current dept have prepared in different ways. One way is to use axle grease on our engines on the connections so they are easier to thread off in freezing weather. Me personally i have a small bag at the station with extra gloves, extra nomex hood, winter beanie hat, extra socks ( NOT COTTON) sweatshirt, a couple of power bars , my own preference etc..  We keep sand in buckets on the engines  for when traction on scene becomes a problem and it will.  As always just slow down and take a look around!


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