Firefighters Battling More Than Fires


Saturday, December 2nd 2006, 10:05 pm
By: News On 6


An already dangerous job is made even more treacherous in the snow. Firefighters put themselves in extreme situations fighting both fire and the elements. News on 6 reporter Joshua Brakhage shows us how they get the job done.

This would be a dangerous fire in any situation, but ten inches of snow makes it even worse.

The flames weakened the house at 1500 E. 3rd St., and the snow stacked roof proved too heavy. It fell in and took a firefighter down in the process. He had to be checked out by paramedics.

Assistant Chief Harold McCoy says the heavy snow and frigid temperatures make everything more complicated. Older pumpers are fitted for tire chains, new trucks all have automatic, hydraulic chains that are engaged whenever they hit slick spots. The firefighters themselves have firmer footing as well.

"Each firefighter is issued these, whenever they get ready and conditions call for it they can just be slipped on or taken off. It doesn't slow 'em down," Assistant Fire Chief Harold McCoy said. "These things virtually prevent any falls, all we have to do is have the guys wear 'em."

Along with wearing spikes, fire crews dress in layers. More crews are called out, so firefighters aren't in the cold as long.

"We also set up tents, we have heating tents, and if our guys get too cold, we'll rotate our guys a little more often, and we try and keep hot liquids in them," McCoy said.

When temperatures stay below freezing, fire crews also have to worry about creating more problems for themselves.

"After an incident, if we're involved in fighting a fire, is the water freezing, coming outside and slipping down on the porch, the front yard, that sort of thing," said McCoy.

Firefighters train year round for the possibility of winter weather. Drivers all completed a defensive driving course prior to this round of slick streets. With only one injury since the snow hit, they're finding its practice that's now paying off.