The challenges of fighting fires in extreme cold

DES MOINES, Iowa -- As if fighting fires wasn't hard enough, imagine doing in single-digit temperatures as we're seeing this week.

"Think about wearing a pair of snow pants, a heavy winter parka, and then putting a backpack on your back--and then coating yourself in about half- or three-quarters of an inch of ice," says Des Moines Fire Department Captain Chris Clement.

He says almost everything about fighting a fire gets harder when it's this cold.

"It's like anything where you're working with your hands--as you start to get cold you lose dexterity. Simple tasks become very difficult, in addition to being rather miserable, of course" Clement says.

He says the department has a good relationship with DART, who will send buses to fire scenes to give fire fighters and people displaced by fire a place to get warm in extreme cold.

Clement also says fighting fire with water, which turns to ice, means streets and sidewalks near fire scenes can get treacherous.

"The fire scene does become kind of a skating rink, so wintertime operations mean rather than just being the fire department, now the police department and the city's public works department having to bring out salt trucks" he says.

Clement also says it can be just as physically taxing to fight fires in the extreme heat of summer as it is in the extreme cold of winter.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content