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Glick Fire Equipment Company, Inc.

Fire Truck Cooling System

fire apparatus radiator coolant maintenance


How often should you check the antifreeze levels on a fire truck or ambulance?

You should incorporate a visual check of your radiator and coolant system into the regular inspection of every apparatus in your department. As often as you check other fluid levels, you should also perform a check of your coolant level. It is also important to visually inspect the radiator, hoses and connections of your fire truck cooling system for leaks, cracks or damage.

At Glick Fire Equipment, we have combined several services into our annual chassis service. One service included in the chassis service is a full check of your cooling system. Our technicians will perform a visual inspection of the fire truck cooling system, checking the hoses and clamps for leaks and damage. We will also closely inspect the radiator on your apparatus for any blockage or debris. A technician will also pressurize the radiator cap to test the seal. We will also pressurize the cooling system to check for any possible leaks.

What do you do if the PH or nitrate levels of your apparatus cooling system are off?

fire truck coolant - test strips - radiator cooling system

On larger apparatus, we use test strips to check the PH level and nitrites. The test strips will show us if your fire truck cooling system is properly balanced. Test strips will also reveal if the coolant is within the correct nitrate and freeze point levels. If the levels of the PH or nitrates aren’t correct, we have a safe additive that will bring them back to the correct levels. Of course, this is only more critical in larger apparatus engines. In smaller engines, like ambulances, the PH and nitrate levels aren’t as critical. In smaller first response vehicles we will typically only test the freeze point of the coolant.

What can you do if the freeze point of your apparatus cooling system isn’t correct?

If the freeze point of your apparatus coolant is incorrect, then a flush and fill is the way to correct it. At Glick, we can properly and safely flush your apparatus cooling system and replace the system with properly-balanced coolant.

Is it okay to use any antifreeze in your fire truck cooling system?

It seems that every manufacturer has a different coolant. We have seen red, gold, pink and green extended life coolant. Basically, you need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to make sure you don’t mix antifreeze that isn’t compatible. If you mix regular glycol coolant with dex cool (extended life) all basically drops the 5 year extended life. Pierce is now using OAT coolant which is an extended life coolant that is gold in color. Be sure to read your manufacturer’s recommendation before adding any coolant to your reservoir. You can read more about OAT coolant here.

What about smaller engines? Are you able to work on ambulances and other smaller first response units?

Absolutely! At Glick Fire Equipment we can maintain and repair any first response vehicle. If you suspect there is a problem with the cooling system of your apparatus or ambulance, give us a call. Cooling system maintenance and repair can be done in your station or ours! Our mobile service technicians can help minimize downtime by coming directly to your station and performing almost any service right there. Call our service department to schedule your service today.

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