WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News, Weather, & Sports

Fighting Fires in the Cold Weather

By: Teresa Moua-Her
By: Teresa Moua-Her

Since the Keep the Wreath Green campaign began almost two weeks ago, two red bulbs have been added symbolizing two structural fires that fire departments responded to in Eau Claire.
As it is already difficult enough to fight a fire during ideal conditions, the winter weather presents additional challenges.
With the holidays just around the corner, friends and families are in the house more but that also means there are higher chances of having a fire.
Eau Claire Deputy Chief David Gee said there are more fires during the holidays.
"The holiday period from Thanksgiving through New Years is typically a time we see an increase in fires particularly home fires."
Putting out a fire is difficult as it is but that's not the only thing a firefighter has to think of during a winter fire.
Mark Olson a firefighter of 26 years said it isn't easy.
Olson also said there are many thoughts that comes to mind such as "trying to stay dry, worried about where we're going to put the water, what's going to freeze up, what hazards we're going to have ..."
Olson said one year it got so bad, it was more fighting the ice than the fire.
"The ice conditions at the fire scene and the fire fighters were falling down all over, couldn't stand up, it was 20 below type wind chill."
Fighting fires in the cold are not much different from fighting them in the hot weather, but firefighters have to worry about their equipment freezing up.
Not only are there concerns for equipment freezing, the water used to put out the winter fire also causes major problems for the surrounding areas.
Gee said, there are other safety issues such as ice accumulation at the fire ground.
In some cases, roads can become so icy that they are blocked off until sand and salt trucks arrive.
But even though the water can create dangerous roads for traffic, fire hoses must be kept running to prevent freezing..
Also, firefighters can only rely on staying warm from an extra bag of dry gear because they wear the same uniform year round.
While this last tip may sound simple, Fire Officials add that shoveling the snow that builds up around a fire hydrant helps immensely.


WEAU 13 NEWS 1907 S. Hastings Way Eau Claire, WI 54701 By Phone: Main Number (715) 835-1313 and (715) 832-3474. Tip Line (715) 839-WEAU - (715) 839-9328 Sports Line (715) 852-1537
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