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SAFD is taking steps to make sure engine pumps don't freeze

SAFD prepares for cold 01-06-14 (Lorena Inclan)
The St. Augustine Fire Department takes steps to prepare for cold blast. (Lorena Inclan)
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Updated: 1/06 9:37 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- The St. Augustine Fire Department is taking steps to make sure its fire trucks are ready to answer calls during Monday night's and Tuesday morning's hard freeze.

Firefighters were seen getting ready Monday, double-and-triple-checking their gear for a bone-chilling night the ancient city hasn't seen in decades.

"I think '83 is the last time I remember that we had real issues. We actually had a major fire downtown and we had icicles hanging from the ladder it was that cold," said Fire Chief Mike Arnold.

To make sure they don't run into the same problems, a new action plan is under way.

"We drain the pumps on the trucks so that they won't freeze. We make sure that the guys are well prepared for [avoiding] hypothermia," said Arnold.

According to Arnold, the main concern during the cold blast will be the wind.

"We're talking about 25-mph to 35-mph winds. If power lines are down and we lose electricity, now we have no heat, we have no lights. So I want everybody to have a plan," said Arnold.

Two extra firefighters have been called in for Monday night and into the overnight hours, bringing the total number on watch to 10. Arnold has also requested the help of the St. Johns County Fire Department.

"We've made arrangements with St. Johns County so if we have a structure fire [they will] go ahead and roll additional apparatus right off the bat," said Arnold.

Arnold said the fire trucks can carry about 750 gallons of water. The tanks themselves won't freeze but the pumps could. Arnold said they will drain the pipes to all their engines by 9 p.m. Monday.
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