We all know that being a firefighter is a dangerous job. But when you add extreme cold weather to the mix, it becomes all the more deadly.. Here are 15 Tips that could just very well save lives.
- Provide training concerning frostbite and hypothermia.
- Allow firefighters to carry a personal bag that contains extra cold-weather gear. Our bags typically include a stocking cap, some type of balaclava made from polar fleece or Under Armour-type fabric, a sweatshirt or long-sleeve turtleneck, extra gloves, mittens with liners and heavy socks.
- Identify and service potential problem hydrants. To locate buried hydrants following a 1997 winter storm, we resorted to using metal detectors. We now proactively identify and flag hydrants that have the potential to be buried under snow. We also air public service announcements that encourage city residents to keep the areas around hydrants clear of snow and ice, and we keep sturdy snow shovels on the hose bed or close to the supply line for removing snow from around hydrants.
- Keep pumps and drain lines dry. Be sure to close them before leaving the warmth of the station, or they will freeze open and you will have water everywhere.
- Open all compartment doors and inlet and outlet caps, and make sure they’re dry.
- Don’t wash apparatus during extreme cold weather.
- Constantly re-circulate water in pumps at the scene. To prevent freezing and damage, any lines not being used should be left partially open or drained and rolled on scene.
- Support all hoselines with cribbing to prevent freezing down.
- Keep large, heavy-duty tow ropes on every apparatus.
- Give careful consideration when responding to areas with steep or sloping terrain. Do you approach from the top or bottom of the hill? Make sure you turn the wheels into the curb when you park. Don’t forget to chock the wheels.
- Turn off retarders during slippery road conditions.
- Keep sand or salt on every apparatus to reduce slippery surfaces.
- Carefully monitor weather conditions and incident duration. Do you send staged apparatus back to the station until needed, or are they left on high idle?
- Provide large plastic toboggans on each apparatus for use in moving hose and equipment to the fire in the event apparatus can no longer proceed because of significant snow drifting.
- Encourage new ideas. Example: During extreme snow emergencies, emergency response task forces, made up of a snowplow, police unit, ambulance and fire apparatus, could be formed and housed at fire stations.