Fighting fires and the cold

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

Firefighters are used to battling the heat, but when winter comes it's one temperature extreme to the next in a matter of seconds.  It's something many fire officials say they think about.

For example, while they do have very warm gear, the gear gets wet when fires are fought.

"So the guys are in freezing weather in soaking wet clothing so we really have to watch them for hypothermia," said Brett Winstead.

Battalion 2 Chief Brett Winstead says the cold weather doesn't just have an effect on the firefighters, but their tools, too.

"We have fans and saws and none of that seems to like cold weather very much either.   We'll have a mechanic on every shift, and they will go through everything," said Winstead.

In Hoxie, Captain John Jenkins says when cold weather hits they make sure they have a warm place for firefighters to retreat even if it's just for a few minutes.

"Cycle people in and out of that area to sit down and warm up, get thawed out,  and head back out with us," said Jenkins.

Jenkins says they also take precautions to keep things from freezing up.

"We just take a spare hose that we keep on the truck, and a spare nozzle, and hook up one section, and turn it on, and just crack it open," said Jenkins.

Jenkins says it's like leaving a faucet slightly dripping in your home to keep pipes from freezing.  Both departments say it's important, and they do have someone watching the crews to make sure they're safe at all times.

"That's what a safety officer does is constantly walk the scene looking for those hazards that no one's noticed," said Winstead.

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