Firefighters face challenges in cold weather - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Firefighters face challenges in cold weather

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Amarillo, TX - Firefighters face different challenges when putting out fires in cold weather.

Firefighters tackle fires in the same manner whether it is extremely hot or extremely cold outside, but in the winter they do encounter some unique challenges.

"The ice that is caused by our runoff and you know that effects us because we are having to work basically on top of an ice surface that we created trying to put a fire out," Captain Jacob Oehlert with the Amarillo Fire Department said.

While they can't always keep the water they are spraying on the fire from freezing, they can keep the water in the hoses fluid by keeping it flowing even if it is just off to the side.

"The thing about water as long as we can keep it moving and circulating we're not going to have a problem, it's not going to freeze on us, not in the temperatures we are getting here," Oehlert said.

They also have to make sure to keep the trucks in heated bays when not in use and drain the pumps so the water in the truck is always ready.

"We carry water in all the trucks in big tanks, we do go through steps right now when it gets this cold to make sure we drain all that piping in the truck and that we are draining the pumps out and the water is just in the tank," Oehlert said.

If they do have a truck freeze while on scene they always have other similar trucks there so they can quickly switch to another one.

As for the firefighters themselves they do make sure they have enough people at a scene so they can rotate them out and keep them warm.

"We're going to be more conscientious about what's going to happen later on the prolonged long term effects of being outside all of the personnel and equipment being outside," Oehlert said.

But in the end they are still just doing their job.

"When it comes down to it, it's about just providing the highest level of service," Oehlert said.

While they face unique challenges in the cold the fire department says their first priority in either heat or cold is saving lives and then they take the precautions necessary to keep themselves safe while putting out the fire.