Cold weather brings on a whole new set of changes and challenges for any kind of vehicle. The Striker® aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) vehicle is no different. Below is a guide on key check points to help ensure your Striker ARFF is operation ready.
Verify Your ARFF Truck Batteries are Working at Full Capacity
The batteries onboard the Striker ARFF vehicle are lead acid batteries with lead plates in electrolyte liquid. This creates an electro-chemical reaction creating a charge to the battery. Hot and cold weather has adverse effects on batteries. When the batteries are hot, chemical activity inside the batteries accelerates. However, when the batteries are cold, chemical activity in the batteries are slowed down. That’s why batteries often feel stagnant during the winter months even though they are still preforming.
A fully charged battery should have a static voltage reading of 12.3-12.6. If your batteries are not staying within these parameters, the batteries should be replaced. Another great way to understand the condition of your battery is by performing a battery load test.
Are You Mixing ARFF Vehicle Engine Coolant at the Correct Ratio?
When mixing ARFF vehicle engine coolant at the correct ratio, it is important to insert the proper ratio of water to antifreeze. To find the correct ratio, consult your Oshkosh Striker service manual or your engine manufacturer’s service manual for the proper ratios. Following the manual's instructions will provide optimal coolant protection for temperatures seen at your airport.
Is Your Compartment Winterization System Working Properly?
The winterization system is a diesel fueled heating system. The system heats water and circulates it through heat exchangers located in the compartments of the Striker ARFF. The heat exchangers have a fan attached to them which transfer the heat from the water to the air inside the compartment. This keeps the compartments warm and prevents firefighting components from freezing.
If your ARFF truck is equipped with a compartment winterization system, periodically engage the system to verify it is working correctly. To do so, you must first place the compartment heater switch in the ON position. Then, allow one to two minutes for the heater to start operating.
Allow the system to circulate warm coolant and check the heat exchanger in the compartment to verify the fan is functioning correctly and warm air is blowing. To shut down the heater, place the compartment heater switch to the OFF position. The blower will continue to run until the heater fumes are thoroughly exhausted. For additional information, reference the maintenance section of your Striker service manual.
Maintain ARFF Truck Tire Pressure
The change in temperature can cause a dramatic change in tire pressure and overall performance. As the temperature drops during the season change, the molecules inside tires move slower and crowd closer together, causing tire pressure to decrease. During high temperatures, molecules move faster and take up more space, causing tire pressure to increase. To find the correct tire pressure for your truck, reference the data plate located on the driver’s door or in the cab. Be certain to maintain the correct tire pressure during the winter months for optimum vehicle performance.
Controlling ARFF Vehicle Idling and Wet Stacking
It is important to be mindful of how often an ARFF truck engine is idling. Extended idling of a diesel engine effects the engine's ability to fully warm up. This can influence your vehicle’s emissions system performance and cause wet stacking. Wet stacking occurs when the engine is too cold to burn all the fuel causing unburned fuel to collect on cylinder walls and exhaust components. Buildup of fuel can cause damage to the engine if not properly cared for over a long period of time. When the vehicle is driven, the engine’s exhaust temperature is elevated, and produces enough heat to keep emissions systems working properly. Limiting the idle time of the engine, operating the vehicle under load (pumping or driving), or placing the engine in high-idle will help bring your engine to normal operating temperatures reducing risk of wet stacking.
As the seasons change, so does your maintenance regimen. Some of these suggestions might seem obvious, but it is important to continually perform checks on your Striker ARFF to ensure it is operationally ready. For any additional questions, please reach out to the Oshkosh Service and Support team.