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Winter Weather Fire Fighting

Fires have been wreaking havoc in our area in recent days, and the colder weather has made it more difficult for fire crews to successfully put them out.

Victoria Langowska talked with a local fire fighters about what they’re facing.

The winter season poses unique challenges to first responders. Especially fire fighters who end up dealing directly with the elements in order to do their jobs. I spoke with some local fire departments to find out more.

Fire fighters are dealing with below average temperatures this month. As well as accumulating snow fall. The Southmont Volunteer Fire Company spent Tuesday Morning battling a blaze in the frigid weather, which officials describe as a difficult environment inside of what’s basically a valley between two hills. Edward Burkett, Lieutenant of the fire company, talks about the different aspects that made the situation more difficult.

“When there’s snow on the ground it’s harder to negotiate that when you’re walking, especially with a hose on your shoulder or tools in your hands. It can also mask or hide where a fire hydrant is if it’s not shoveled out. The caps on the fire hydrant can be frozen. The hose may freeze if the water isn’t continuously moving through it. Snow certainly adds additional challenges.”

But equipment is not the only thing that suffers in winter conditions.

“Tripping and falling are what people typically think about when you think of firefighting in snow but frostbite, fatigue, dehydration is just as much of a concern as in the summertime.”

The Johnstown Fire Department also spoke with us about the impact winter weather has on emergency response times.

“Studies have shown that fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, so slowing down our response to the scene, the fire has a better chance of growing, double in size every 30 seconds, making it harder for us to extinguish.”

There are however some things that we can keep do in order to help our fire crews during this winter season.

“We recommend any residents that have a fire hydrant in front or near their house to shovel approximately a 3-foot wide area around the fire hydrant, easy enough that it can be walked around so we can attach our hoses and open the fire hydrant in case of an emergency.”


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