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Attached is an outline we used for a quick winter operations class at work. I ran across this the other day and thought it would be appropriate to post now.  The podcast is here for this topic as well.  Feel free to add and use this as you see fit. If you have some great tips on operating in the winter, please share with everybody, as I'm sure we missed something that could be very useful.

Water Supply--

  • Frozen Hydrants/Snowed In--make sure we have a shovel and insure that  booster tank is full in case there is a delay in obtaining water supply.
  • Can thaw frozen FDC and hydrant connections with road flares or torches
  • Monitor ice forming from leaking water and carry salt for slippery surfaces
  • Identify alternate hydrant locations in the event that the closest hydrant is unable to be used.

Apparatus Considerations

  • Use Jake Break/Exhaust breaks appropriately for the weather
  • Keep in mind the restrictions of chains, on the ambulance, speed limits, etc.
  •  Keep salt and or ice melt on the truck for slippery surfaces and for truck tires
  • We are draining pumps
  • Use recirculating valve when sitting on scene

Hose Lines

  • Let nozzles bleed water when not in use during freezing temps
  • Try to direct draining water away and off of walking and driving surfaces
  • Hose may need to be taken back to house to thaw before repacking
  • Blow out hose reels

Ladder Truck Operations

  • Be aware of snow banks and ices conditions when setting outriggers. Cannot short jack the side your working off of.
  • Think about ice and the possibility of the truck sliding if on grade and in use
  • Increasing ice load onto building and ground surfaces from water flow

Ground Ladder Use

  • Rungs may become slick, three points of contact
  • Roof surfaces will be slick and dangerous. Guttering may be ice covering causing the ladder to slide laterally.
  • Lock in and use harnesses or ladder belts when working off of
  • Ground surfaces may be snow packed or ice covered making butting the ladder difficult and important. Getting proper working angle may be a challenge

Service Calls

  • Ice and snow can cause electrical lines to break and come down. Be aware of surroundings. Trees may break causing the downed line.
  • No electric may mean no heat for vulnerable patients. Unapproved alternative heating methods may be used causing fires and CO emergencies.
  • Broken water mains may cause water supply issues during a fire.
  •  Be familiar with relay pumping and make sure your booster tank is full.

Chimney Fires

  • Consider best roof access, ice, snow, roof height and slope
  • Be aware of the condition of the chimney, use caution when working around the chimney, they can fail.
  • Be sure to check attic spaces and concealed spaces between floors for extension.
  • The fire box should be emptied to eliminate further heat and fire.
  • Avoid water in the chimney, it will crack the flue liner.
  • If dropping dry-chem bags or other extinguishing agents from the top, close fire box doors first.

Winter Loads

  • Be aware of the loads being placed on a building by ice and snow.  The weight  coupled by fire attacking the structural members and the fire flow will increase likelihood of collapse and the collapse will happened faster.
  • Carports and large open span buildings are especially susceptible to collapse
  • Ice hanging off of structures can break loose and injure a firefighter.
  • Monitor conditions above us in regards to falling ice and snow sheets off of buildings.

Listen Podcast on this topic HERE

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Comment by Jason Hoevelmann on December 7, 2015 at 7:10pm

Danny, thanks for the great tip!  Hope you're well and take care. Thanks for reading.

Comment by Danny Stratton on December 5, 2015 at 1:32pm

Good stuff Jay, another tip when it comes to extension ladders frozen in the extended position. This has to be done fast. With a hose line spray the ladder. Water in the pump will be warm enough momentarily thaw the ice so the ladder can be retracted immediately. 

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