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  • Apparatus Washing Suggestions & Products

    Would like to know from members of larger FD's what their frequency is of washing and cleaning apparatus and what products/methods they use to keep their apparatus looking good and to protect the paint finish.

    Also because of the increasing use of Calcium Chloride for the roads in winter in the northern states and Canada I'm wondering what FD's are using as to a method of cleaning and protecting the apparatus exterior finish and the cab and body undercarriage etc.

    Any SOP/SOG's would be appreciated.

  • #2
    I'm not from a large fire dpeartment but one thing that I was taught that if you use powdered soap make sure you use warm to hot water to fill with bucket with it. Apparently cold water will not cause all of the cyrstals to disolve and can then scratch the paint while you are washing.

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    • #3
      We just use standard car wash soap and hot water and any sort of non-abrasive sponge, brush, etc. to do the wash.

      We have an un-written SOP that says the Driver of any rig that has made a response in inclement weather (not just salt, but rain where road grime can wash back onto the truck) shall rinse the truck and wheel wells thoroughly upon return. I would like to see this changed to a WRITTEN sop which would place the Driver AND officer responsible if it does not happen- we have hairbags that don't do it.
      "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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      • #4
        A hot water pressure washer does wonders on the under carriage. When you use hot water, it is not necessary to use super high pressures. A soap injector will allow you to add some more cleaning power.

        Now for logistics. You certainly can't afford a machine for every station, so some sharing will be necessary.

        As a practice, we perform a detailing of the trucks every Saturday. They get a rinse like the one FWD described if needed during the week.

        C6

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        • #5
          Our SOP says that if the vehicle leaves the station, it gets washed before you leave. Then again, we are a small rural department that averages 100 calls a year, so we are washing the vehicles about twice a week. They also get a good detail before parades and appreciation dinner. We use a standard car soap and brushes.

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          • #6
            Rigs are washed as needed or at least weekly but could be as frequent as every other day. We use Kleen-flo's Golden Wax Wash powder. It dries spot free and has Armashell wax in it. We'll also polish the trucks as needed using Autoglym.

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            • #7
              SOP is daily, around 5pm-6pm. A normal car wash soap with long handled soft brushes are used. Cold water only.

              It would be nice if they would do as FWD wants on his rigs. Especially on inclement weather days, especially when it snows. Ah, but to dream.

              FM1
              I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.

              Originally posted by EastKyFF
              "Firemens gets antsies. Theys wants to goes to fires. Sometimeses they haves to waits."

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              • #8
                Driver wash the rig every day. Wipes out the cab and door jambs every day whilie checking the rig. Usually done after truck check in the AM. By then everyone else is finishing their choirs and they pitch into help. Then since everyone is next to the truck, we go to the store for food.

                We use reg old car soap. Long handled brushs, wash mit for the pump panel. Afterwards we dry the truck to prevent water spots. Clean the windows with paper towels and windex (a pet peeve of the capt.) If we are going to a multi company event during the day we put tire shine on it. This makes it stand out next to the other companies, we have to show off a bit.

                During rain and snow we leave the hose out to rinse the truck after every run. Washing off the road grim helps keep the roll up doors working easily and the pump panel working properly.

                Probies polish the chrome. They are waxed once a month.

                That is how my station does it. Each station in the city is different. We have the cleanest trucks in the city.

                We run about 2500 calls a year.

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                • #9
                  Invisible Glass does a great job on Windows, leaves no streaks. Available in wipes or spray. I buy it at Wal-Mart.

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                  • #10
                    I am a clean car fanatic, have an automotive detailing venture on the side and wrote an article on fire apparatus detailing for Firehouse Magazine back in November of 1992.

                    The condensed version of apparatus washing 101...
                    • Use quality car wash products. Washing and waxing a $500K to $1 Million rig with the cheapest stuff doesn't make sense. You get what you pay for.
                    • Always use soft wash brushes and mitts. Stiff brushes will cause scratches, sponges can hold dirt and grit that will scratch paint.
                    • Use two separate wash buckets.. one for the wash solution, one to rinse the brushes/mitts between after cleaning a section of the rig
                    • Use separate brushes and mitts to clean the wheels to avoid scratching the paint.
                    • Follow the natural airflow of the vehicle.. washing in a straight line motion to minimize scratches and swirls.
                    • After washing, remove the nozzle from the hose and rinse with free flowing water to allow the water to sheet off.
                    • Dry the vehicle with either a synthetic chamois like the Absorber or microfiber drying towels.
                    • Use microfiber toweling to clean glass. Use horizontal strokes for cleaning the inside windows and vertical strokes for the outside or vice versa. That way, if the glass is streaked, you will know what side of the glass needs to be redone.
                    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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                    • #11
                      We just moved into our new permanant station from a temporary one that was on gravel at my career department. I too am a stickler for keeping vehicles clean. Now that we have pavement and concrete, our truck will be staying much cleaner.

                      I agree with not using the cheapest soap out there. Not only will you go through it quicker, but it won't give as good of a result. We use a commercial grade wash/wax. I try to wash the truck every shift, always if we go somewhere.

                      I will also give a vote for Invisible Glass. Awesome stuff. Probably the best over the counter glass cleaner you can buy.

                      Tire shine is ok, but you have to know how to prep a tire to be able to use it. Building up old layers of tire shine will eventualy look like crap. Clean the tires well in between coats. Westely's Bleach-Wite works great for this.

                      Get yourself of a bottle of quick wax. Use it after every wash when you dry the truck. This will help keep the truck looking good in between wax jobs. If you want to get serious with your waxing, do two coats. The first being a synthetic, topped with a traditional carnuba. Meguiar's NXT 2.0 topped with Gold Class is a great combo.

                      That's all for now, should think of some more later.
                      Career Firefighter
                      Volunteer Captain

                      -Professional in Either Role-

                      Originally posted by Rescue101
                      I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by FIREMECH1 View Post
                        SOP is daily, around 5pm-6pm. A normal car wash soap with long handled soft brushes are used. Cold water only.

                        It would be nice if they would do as FWD wants on his rigs. Especially on inclement weather days, especially when it snows. Ah, but to dream.

                        FM1
                        Thats why I want the written SOP backed up with disciplinary guidelines for the driver AND the company officer.
                        "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Like FireMech1 said, "A normal car wash soap with long handled soft brushes are used. Cold water only." or sometimes we just use plain dawn/joy/etc., whatever is available.

                          In theory every platoon does it on their first daywork (every other day) but some platoons are better/more consistent than others. In general it will be done at least once a week. We do not wash on days of rain or freezing weather; in winter trucks washed on as needed basis (ie., when you can "write" in the dirt it's time...) but we try to avoid getting the apparatus floor wet or the apron for icing conditions.

                          We don't or at most rarely bother with drying/waxing/tire shine/etc. as inevitably just washing it gets interrupted by a call. It would be nice to have a piece worthy of such attention but reality is much different here. Have tire shined as a joke because the piece was such a turd.
                          Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mrpita View Post
                            Like FireMech1 said, "A normal car wash soap with long handled soft brushes are used. Cold water only." or sometimes we just use plain dawn/joy/etc., whatever is available.

                            In theory every platoon does it on their first daywork (every other day) but some platoons are better/more consistent than others. In general it will be done at least once a week. We do not wash on days of rain or freezing weather; in winter trucks washed on as needed basis (ie., when you can "write" in the dirt it's time...) but we try to avoid getting the apparatus floor wet or the apron for icing conditions.

                            We don't or at most rarely bother with drying/waxing/tire shine/etc. as inevitably just washing it gets interrupted by a call. It would be nice to have a piece worthy of such attention but reality is much different here. Have tire shined as a joke because the piece was such a turd.



                            Dish washing soap, dawn, joy etc., cuts the wax off the apparatus body.
                            Stay Safe and Well Out There....

                            Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CaptOldTimer View Post
                              Dish washing soap, dawn, joy etc., cuts the wax off the apparatus body.
                              Not a problem for us as we don't wax...
                              Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

                              Comment

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