Firefighters battle greater challenges during freezing temps

Firefighters battle greater challenges during freezing temps

Firefighters have a lot to worry about in the cold, including equipment. Firefighters have a lot to worry about in the cold, including equipment.

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - While many schools and businesses have closed due the weather, there's no such thing as a snow day for our first responders.

This deep freeze poses extra challenges for the firefighters working to keep our city safe.

"It goes back to the simple things of dressing in layers, being able to maintain our own body temperatures, maintain our own well being to provide the service were supposed to," explained Knoxville Fire Department Capt. Robby Copas.

It's hard to imagine firefighters getting cold while battling fires, dressed in their heavy gear, but it can pose a real danger including the risk of hypothermia.

"As soon as we can, if it's a fire or something of that nature, where we get wet or we do sweat a lot, even in this environment, we're going to try to get out of those wet clothes as soon as we possibly can," explained Capt. Copas.

They have a special rehab bus they use during times of extreme cold where they can warm up.

"When the temperatures drop to this level the thing we're going to have trouble with the most is our own personal well being, keeping our senses where they should be, being able to warm up and function to do our job.

In addition to their personal safety, the cold weather also brings challenges when it comes to their gear.

"Holding on to it, slick surface, dexterity, being able to feel what we're holding on to as far as equipment," said Capt. Copas.

Monday was a quiet day for crews, but when they do have to battle fires in these types of freezing temperatures, the water they use to do their job can also pose a hazard.

"It will freeze, causing slip hazards, trip hazards, fall hazards, we've had individuals who've been hurt, you have to be more sure on your footing," he explained.

Every fire poses it's own challenges, and the extreme temperatures are just another element they must battle. Everyone should be aware of the risks this cold season brings, including using space heaters safely and using caution when building a fire in the home.

"If people try to prepare, think things through of what they do, it makes our job easier."

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