firefighters spraying water near a firetruck in winter
January 10, 2020

Tips for Effective Winter Firefighting

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 winter firefighting tips that will 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 fire hydrant, 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. Clearing snow and ice in a 3 to 4 foot diameter around the fire hydrant will provide a safe working location around the fire hydrant.  Use tall, identifiable markers or flags to spot snow-covered fire hydrants.

Some fire departments have community outreach programs that enlist the help of local citizens to keep hydrants clear in the wintertime. These initiatives not only help the department with winter firefighting but also make 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 Fire Hoses

Harsh winter weather and temperatures can easily stifle fire suppression capabilities if you don't take the proper precautions. From the moment you begin charging the fire 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. If needed, a pump drain can be pulled to drain water from pump housing in winter months. Be aware of where water is pooling on hard surfaces as ice buildup can occur.

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 winter firefighting tips to help you and your department prepare for harsh weather conditions. Find the right fire hose for tough winter weather conditions by viewing our full inventory of fire hoses.