Many obstacles for crews fighting fires in cold weather

Posted at 11:49 AM, Jan 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-15 13:54:35-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The cold temperatures make it difficult for anyone to work outside.

It is especially difficult for firefighters who rely on running water to fight fire, only to have it freeze. That is just one of the adds to the hazards they face.

Jasen Asay, with the Salt Lake City Fire Department, said snow-covered fire hydrants hamper fire crews ability to respond quickly to fires.

"On Saturday for this bus fire, our firefighters had to search out, find the hydrant and dig it out. And that took an extra minute or two," said Asay.

Asay said the extra time would have allowed a residential fire to cause much more damage.

The number of emergency calls goes up when the temperatures drop. Snow and ice create additional obstacles for firefighters.

"Once the water hits the ground, it automatically freezes," said Asay. "Which provides a kind of ice rink around homes and vehicles, or whatever has the fire."

Ice also accumulates on the firefighters gears, which weighs them down and makes them a lot colder.

The type of calls Utah firefighters respond to also changes, as they tend to see more EMS-related calls.

"There are a lot of problems that come with the snow," said Asay. "A lot of traffic accidents that we will respond to because of the cold weather and ice. People falling, slipping on the ice, we respond to. That is a big on as well."

Officials ask people to clear snow on and around the fire hydrants as it can save firefighters valuable time.