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Regular inspection of each unit in your department’s fleet is key in ensuring safety and smooth operation during every response. Today, we will cover apparatus tire dry rot. How does it happen? What can you do to prevent it? What to do when you spot it? How often should tires be replaced? These are all questions we hope to help answer to help keep you, your crew and your community safe.
Tire dry rot is the deterioration of the tire usually manifested as small cracks in the rubber sidewalls of the tire.
There are many causes of tire dry rot. Improper inflation, exposure to excessive heat, constant exposure to direct sunlight and long periods of inactivity are all known to cause dry rot in tires.
Dry rot will eventually happen, but there are some things you can do to help prolong the life of your tires. Avoid using harsh chemicals, use only mild detergent and water to clean tires. When storing your apparatus, place wood under each tire. Be sure the wood is wide/long enough to support the entire tire with no overlap. Store apparatus in a covered parking area away from the elements.
Visually inspect all sides of the tire. When tires dry rot, it normally shows as small, hairline cracks in the sidewall and/or tread areas of the tire.
What should you do if you find dry rot? – Do not drive on tires with suspected dry rot. Have your tire manufacturer’s representative inspect the tires before continuing to use.
On fire apparatus, NFPA requires replacement every 7 years or more frequently as needed. On ambulances and civilian vehicles, tires should be replaced every 10 years or mileage life of the tire – whichever is sooner. Other factors may shorten the life of your tires. Regular inspection should be done for road debris, proper inflation, tread wear and tear.
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