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Fighting Fires In Freezing Temperatures Is About Readiness

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Fighting Fires In Freezing Temperatures Is About Readiness

With two more nights of single-digit temperatures, the risk of house fires increases this weekend.

Baxter Fire Lieutenant Zachary Womack said fighting fires in freezing temperatures is about making sure to be prepared ahead of time. He said ensuring equipment is in working order and hoses are not frozen is the first priority. He said next is to ensure the safety of the firefighters on the scene.

“Most of the volunteers keep their turnout gear with them in their vehicles,” Womack said. “If they don’t have the forethought to take it into the house at night, when they get to the fire scene, their gear is in their cold vehicle, when they put it on it’s going to be cold.”

Womack said the department works closely with EMS to ensure firefighters’ vitals are where they should be when fighting fires. He said he tells his crew to always be prepared to ensure they can stay healthy while fighting fires in the cold.

“One thing I try to tell my crews that I just learned over time is it is always very important to have extras with you,” Womack said. “I carry a bag with me that as an extra toboggan, extra gloves, a dry t-shirt, a dry pair of socks. That way if we’re out and we get wet or our clothing gets soiled from sweat and all the contaminates from a fire you can jump in the truck and throw a dry shirt on, and it’s warm.”

Womack said while dehydration is more of a concern in the summer heat, battling fires that can burn up to 700 degrees means staying hydrated is a priority even in freezing temperatures.

“Our turnout gear makes us sweat quite a bit still even when it’s cold out,” Womack said. “So, making sure we have water available for the folks. Even when rehab comes they’ll bring coffee and hot chocolate to make sure our people are taken care of.”


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