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Winter brings many special issues to firefighters faced with this climate. Ice and snow can slow responses, add weight to roofs, slow hose lead outs, and provide access problems for ventilation just to mention a few.
Residents attempting to heat homes with auxiliary heating devices may not ventilate properly causing carbon monoxide problems or perhaps cause fires to start by placing kerosene heaters too close to combustibles. Other residents use electric space heaters and connect them to extensions cords not rated for such use, which can also lead to fires.
Rescue calls for victims in/through the ice or other hypothermia related incidents are now also possible. EMS protocols for these types of patients exist, we should be prepared for the specialized treatments.
Our operations must also be adjusted to adapt to these conditions. Anticipate changes in the types of response we may go on and prepare your equipment. Some equipment needs to be winterized, other parts of the apparatus need to be drained, or kept ready to quick engagement to prevent freezing. Rehab concerns include rewarming as well as re-hydration.
It is also imperative during these months that we think about how we respond to the fire station, to the incident, and how we return during severe winter weather. Consider rate of speed, not only for safety, but also how fast we can drive chains on the trucks.
Use this week's drill to discuss your department's equipment and operational considerations for responses during the winter months and during various winter weather events. Now is also a good time to ensure your apparatus is winterized.
The complete drill is located at FirefighterCloseCalls.com.