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Tips To Ensure Fire Suppression During Winter Emergencies

Tips To Ensure Fire Suppression During Winter Emergencies   

A reliable supply of water is critical to have in any fire emergency. But during the wintertime—in colder climates—it is even more crucial to have procedures set up to ensure that water and supplies are ready to go. We have assembled a few tips that’ll keep your department prepared to tackle the blaze in challenging snow and icy conditions. There are plenty of best practices that can rapidly be adopted into a department’s preparedness plan and training. 

Keep Hydrants Accessible

Be sure that fire hydrants in the area you serve are visible and accessible at all times throughout the colder months. Snow can easily drift over a fireplug, and local snowplows can quickly obstruct it with a mound of snow and ice. Make it a routine to check on their condition after snowstorms or after long periods of snow accumulation. Use tall, identifiable markers or flags to spot snow-covered fireplugs. 

Some fire departments have community outreach programs that enlist the help of local citizens to keep hydrants clear in the wintertime. It not only helps the department but also makes residents aware of fire hydrants in their vicinity. 

Ice accumulation on fireplugs can create significant issues during emergencies. If you come across one that is completely frozen, there is one tool that is very useful to have during the winter season: a hand-held propane torch. The torch can quickly free iced-up hydrant caps or hose couplings. Including one of these tools on every apparatus will allow your fellow firefighters to act fast if they encounter ice issues. 

Constant Water Movement In Hoses

Harsh winter weather and temperatures can easily stifle fire suppression capabilities if you don’t take the proper precautions. The moment you begin charging the hoses, you must keep some water moving through the hoses until you are ready to pack equipment up. This practice reduces the likelihood that hose lines, valves, and pumps will completely freeze over due to static water movement at an ambient temperature of 32ºF. 

Departments can keep water moving by recirculating water through the apparatus pump and slightly opening the hose nozzle, deck guns, ladder pipes, etc. Be sure to have the hoses drain away from ladders, vital equipment, and areas of high foot traffic to prevent creating patches of hazardous surface ice. A hose line that is frozen solid will often be difficult or impossible to be correctly stored back on the apparatus. If this happens, disconnect the line and carefully place the frozen hose on the apparatus for a trip back to the station. 

These are just a few tips to help you and your department be better prepared for harsh winter weather conditions. For more information about hoses, visit