Prolong the Life of Water Trucks and Fire Tenders

Setbacks from equipment failure are unfortunate, but often avoidable.

Prolong the Life of Water Trucks and Fire Tenders

  The team at DB Water Trucks puts a lot of time into each truck build, and knows that proper maintenance is needed to keep them from coming back for repairs.

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Anyone who works in construction or fire protection knows the importance of water trucks and fire tenders.

These vehicles are essential in bringing water to fire-stricken areas. However, if they are to provide optimal output, they must be properly maintained. Unfortunately, that’s often ignored due to procrastination or simply because the owners have never worked with these types of vehicles before and may not know what they need to do.

Whether you’re unfamiliar or just putting it off for another day, proper maintenance is essential for equipment to work efficiently and when needed, so don’t skip out on the steps outlined below.

Check for leaks

The obvious distinction from normal equipment is a water truck and a fire tender have a large tank to store and transport water. Containers crack and those cracks lead to leaks. A leak in your water truck could be a disaster if by the time a fire occurs most of the water you stored has leaked out.

This means a team should be checking for leaks on a routine basis. If you are a firefighter, you should be checking for leaks every day while a construction team with a water truck should probably check for leaks every few days. Fill the tank with water and watch to see if any areas are leaking. This goes beyond tanks too. Check hoses as well to ensure they are leak free. If you find a crack, then fill the crack right away or send it to a mechanic who can. 

Most leaks are caused by riding the truck on rough terrain. A water truck driving through the bumpy terrain of a construction site or a fire tender driving through the woods to stop a forest fire, the vehicle is constantly vibrating and bouncing so cracks happen. Inspect vehicles more often if they have had an especially bumpy ride. Lastly, have a professional reseal the water tank once per year. Doing this will help the tank last 15 to 20 years. Most users never reseal the inside of their tanks, and this preventative measure can go a long way. 

Clean the tank

Cleaning the inside of your water truck or fire tender water tank is very important, but it is a routine maintenance step that seems to be routinely ignored.

Debris from dirty water in a hydrant, dirty water from a pond in a construction site, leaves, dirt and sometimes even an animal will frequently gather in tanks. Most trucks have a screen to keep debris out, but a screen is never 100% effective. Buildup of debris will clog your pipes and could potentially cause them to burst. To clean, remove the water from the tank and utilize a flashlight to locate and remove any debris. This process will take 10 minutes and possibly prevent a $10,000 repair bill. It is important to take out the pump and spray head and clean those as well. Clear the system and clean the tank at least once per month. 

Maintain the battery

Battery maintenance is often overlooked, but essential. Water trucks or fire tenders are heavy vehicles that utilize a lot of energy. Batteries on these vehicles will wear out faster than others because of that, so they require more maintenance. This means not leaving the lights on if you can avoid it, installing a battery shut-off switch, and running the vehicle periodically after long periods of non-use. The last thing you want is your battery to be dead or die out when you need it the most.

Know what you want

Buying the wrong truck is the number one reason for breakdowns. The lesson here is to know exactly what you are going to use your water truck for. There are big differences between a city fire tender and a forest fire tender.

For example, we don’t recommend airbag suspension on the rear of a forest fire tender or a construction site water truck since they are more likely to pop and cause shifting of weight in transport. However, they are very acceptable for a truck used in an urban environment. Both construction site water trucks and fire tenders need rear spring suspension systems that allow the tank to move with the frame. Really analyze your needs and what you hope to achieve with the vehicle before committing to a truck.

Get a DOT inspection

The Department of Transportation will inspect fire tenders and water trucks to see if they are good for the road. Get them inspected once a year. This small extra step can catch issues before they become big issues, and proactive maintenance is always more convenient and usually less costly than reactive maintenance.

Water trucks and fire tenders are essential tools for construction workers and fire safety experts. Do these routine maintenance jobs and your vehicle can last over a decade.   

Sara VanFleet is the owner of DB Trucks in Glendale, Arizona. The company specializes in the construction and repair of custom water trucks and fire tenders.


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