Firefighters Fight 'Old Man Winter' And Fires

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

December 22, 2005

The winter can bring changes to job sites, but one profession that you wouldn't normally think of as being affected can sometimes be left in the cold.

Fires usually happen more often during the winter thanks to people using kerosene heaters, wooden stoves, or anything else to keep warm. Fighting 'Old Man Winter' can be hard for anyone, especially firefighters.

"We have challenges out in the fire ground due to the water that we often apply, freezing onto the roadways as well as on the ground," said Chief Dan Eggleston, or the Albemarle County Fire Department.

Firefighters as well as average people, also become more fatigued during the winter, which is an important factor to consider when working outside.

Covering a huge area like Albemarle County is not easy. Some areas lack a good water supply. Often times, when fire hydrants are frozen, firefighters are able to drain lakes, rivers, and ponds; but sometimes that does not work.

"In the summertime it's great; in the wintertime it's often frozen and we can't access that so a lot of times we have to go other places to get that water," said Chief Eggleston.

Throughout the county, tanks which are able to hold up to 25,000 gallons of water are staged, but even those do not work so well. Firefighters have now turned to foam.

"We're using some new technology that's out right now, that mixes air and foam in the water stream," said Chief Eggleston.

Gear is not the only thing affected; the men and women knocking out the flames also feel the added pressure. Pressure that also affect an entire firehouse when the temperature reaches 20 degrees.

"Often times, we have to have more people on scene because a firefighter can not work for long periods of time in these cold conditions," said Chief Eggleston.

Homeowners don't panic, firefighters go through extensive training, so they could adjust to the cold temperatures we are seeing right now.

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