Cold Presents Many Challenges For Fire Departments - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Cold Presents Many Challenges For Fire Departments

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Fire crews have had to change their daily routines to accommodate working in the freezing weather. The below zero temps have triggered more calls to fire departments.

"It almost seems like there's at least a fire a day right now in the valley." says Moorhead Fire Captain Ryan Muchow.

The cold changes how the crew and trucks have to operate.

"Right now we'll just drain all the water lines in the truck and stuff," says Moorhead Firefighter Adam Puetz, "so if we do get a call hopefully they wouldn't freeze up, where as in the summer we can leave them full." 

The trucks come back to the station and get plugged in, so they can keep engines ready to respond to calls right away. 

Firefighters say some of the recent incidents could have been avoided like a number of calls because of heaters not being properly used in homes.

"Be cautious on how your heating your home, use the appropriate appliances." Captain Muchow says, "The last thing we want to see is somebody trying to put a space heater or a propane space heater in their home or in an area trying to thaw pipes, because a they give off carbon monoxide if it's a gas operated one like propane or diesel or gasoline operated."

Firefighters say the biggest increase of calls have come from carbon monoxide checks that could come from vented furnaces, space heaters and running vehicles.

"It's just a reminder if you're going to run your vehicle it's best to open up the garage door, start it, back the vehicle out of the garage and let it warm up outside." Captain Muchow says.

They add that a big problem with the temps is pipes that freeze. Once the weather warms up the crew worries that any cracks that happened from the expanding water sitting in pipes, will burst. But that will be a problem to worry about another day, for now it is also how they keep their emergency crews ready for the temps they have to work in.

"As soon as you step out of the truck it's a whole lot different." Puetz laughs, "It can get cold in a heartbeat when you're dealing with water in these cold conditions."

That's why they layer up.

"You know thick socks, we'll wear gloves, we have hoods we can put on, and stocking caps." Puetz explains.

Firefighters say they are ready to work in the cold for any emergency they respond to.

One last reminder from the crew is for those who have an emergency call to be patient. Responders may need a few extra minutes to get to the location safely.

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