Fire And Ice, A Dangerous Combination
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Fighting fires is by no means a safe or easy job, and the recent frigid temperatures have made it even more of a challenge.
“The cold weather affects all of us. It just makes things more difficult,” said Jay Titus, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Division Chief.
Fire and ice don’t go hand in hand unless you’re battling a fire in a cold weather climate.
“We’re used to it living in this part of the country,” said Titus.
Titus says it’s just part of the job, but putting out fire when you can hardly feel your feet isn’t an easy task.
“Everything takes longer because of the water running and you’re producing ice and slip hazards,” said Titus.
Titus says the cold even started affecting their communication during a recent structure fire.
“We had one radio that the mike actually froze in the open position so they just had to shut it off,” said Titus.
Although firefighting gear is heavy duty, it’s built for fighting fires and not necessarily built for warmth. Something that can cause a problem when the temperature starts to drop.
“A lot of the guys while they’re working they’re fine, but as soon as they would stop working their masks would freeze up,” said Titus.
Titus says that can delay the process of putting out the flames.
“Then you have to put them in a truck, put the heater on high, warm them up, thaw them out and then they can go back to work again,” said Titus.
But there are ways fire crews prepare when they know it’s going to be a cold job.
“A lot of guys will carry extra gloves so when they do get wet they can switch them out,” said Titus.
Changes are also made to fire trucks during the winter months.
“We install what are called ‘belly pans’. They help keep the heat in the pumps so the pumps don’t freeze up. All the trucks carry extra salt and sand on them so they can put it down to help the footing for the firefighters,” said Titus.
All ways to make sure they’re able to carry out the job, no matter what the weather throws their way.