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Posted on 25.07.2016
A fire plan is the first step to ensuring you are on the way to being bush fire ready. The next, is to ensure you and your equipment are prepared for the season.
All the evidence from years of experience, indicates the importance of having an engine powered pump for both asset protection as well as post fire management of burning fences or surrounding vegetation, as well as other structures including buildings.
Once investing in a firefighter pump, it is important that property owners engage in some simple and regular management and maintenance practices.
Few people are ever fully prepared for an emergency like a bush fire outbreak and the speed at which the fire front can travel. Consequently they often allow little time to implement an effective fire defence.
Here is a list of recommendations for effective management and maintenance for consumers, ahead of the fire season:
1. Know the machine: All members of the household need to be proficient in the location, operation and fitting of attachments like inlet and outlet hoses to the fire pump. Also important is to know where other protective materials like clothing and goggles are stored for quick retrieval.
2. Practice: A well rehearsed and documented fire plan is critical to personal survival. In the event a critical situation arises, investing a small amount of time now in pre-fire season training will be of vital importance if a fire situation occurs.
3. Fuel - Petrol: Many people fail to recognise that petrol has a limited life, losing its volatility and effectively becoming ‘stale’. Engines kept fuelled for long periods often over winter may not start due to the deterioration of its fuel. A simple and recommended solution is to change the fuel every two months either by running the pump or draining it of fuel. Better still, both leading petrol engine manufacturers offer a fuel stabiliser which will dramatically extend the life of the fuel, but it must be added when new fuel is purchased.
4. Fuel - Diesel: Has a longer shelf life but it generally needs to be stored at low ambient temperatures to extend the storage time. Major fuel companies expect diesel fuel to have a 12 months or longer life at an ambient temperature of 20 degrees C or six months at an ambient temperature of 30 degrees C.
5. Engine oils are another consideration and individual engine manufacturers offer their own specially branded engine oils to best suit their engines. Synthetic multi-grade engine oil is not a suitable alternative so it is important to follow the manufacturer’s engine lubrication recommendations.
6. Running the engine regularly will ensure that oil is well distributed around the moving parts to provide best lubrication and a longer working life.
7. Air cleaners are another important consideration, so ensure your pump set has adequate clean air access. The air cleaner or filter needs to be checked and replaced as per the recommendation of the engine manufacturer.
8. Keeping the engine cool also has a dramatic effect on the power it can deliver. Protecting the pump from radiant heat in a flame proof enclosure is the ultimate solution, while adding a mist spray around the pump or its enclosure will aid cooling and humidify the air.
9. A general maintenance regime involving regular checks will ensure that fuel lines are in good condition, the recoil starter works and a regular service schedule is adhered to will pay dividends.
10. Check the plumbing: Also, time spent investigating and maintaining the water system is also important.
11. Check for leaves, debris and sticks - these can impede the inlet system while for permanent installations a foot valve and strainer at the end of the suction line can overcome obstructions.
12. Equally the system should be checked for air leaks and to check that all gaskets and seals are in good order
13. Having an underground ring main installed around your property with durable hydrant or standpipe outlets can give you much greater coverage and even shorter hoses with increased resistance to ember attack. So as the summer fire season approaches the traditional motto of ‘be prepared’ applies. Establish your fire plan early, adequately brief and train all family members in its resources and features. Finally ensure that all your water resources from firefighter pump set to your hoses and nozzles is well maintained and able to operate without delay.