Mission Statement

My mission is to explore the lives and experiences of firefighters in the quest to join their prestigious ranks.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Firefighting in Winter

As winter approaches there are new challenges to be faced.

First and foremost, we have to get the the scene safely.  That starts with understanding how your apparatus reacts to the cold weather and how to respond accordingly. 

Things as simple as knowing how your windshield defrosters work so that you can see where you are going on the way to the scene. Once you're on the road with a clear windshield it's important to remember most of engines out there have a bonus 8000 pounds of water sloshing around pushing you down the road. Be prepared for longer stopping distances and not being able to turn nearly as fast, inertia is not your friend..  People will also not be paying attention to you when they are driving in the snow, they are out of their comfort zone driving in the snow and that's when tunnel vision kicks in for a lot of people.

Car accidents have the potential for piling up, keep that in mind when you are establishing the scene and give yourself some extra room for error. There are few things I trust less than average everyday drivers trying to handle snowy conditions.

The fire scene is a whole different story. Slip and fall injuries are already a problem and putting ice everywhere is not helping our chances of getting away with mistakes.  Minimize extraneous water use at the fire scene and keep everyone a bit safer.

Everything about a fire engine is just waiting to freeze on you and hinder your ability to control a fire, anti-freeze is a tool that you can use to fight it.  90% of the battle is to have the right tool for the job, and even that is worthless if it is frozen solid.  For hoses and any other external equipment that uses water it is important to keep the water moving just barley enough that it won't freeze. Remember, we don't want extra water on the ground if we can avoid it.

I know usually we're worried about heat injuries, but where I'm from cold injuries are equally as real.  Rehab areas during the winter need to be able to remove firefighters from the cold elements.  The interior is still hot as hell so you get a good sweat on, the difference being that if you don't stay bundled after you exit the structure you'll quickly switch from over-heating to hypothermia.  One of the best ways that our body can defend against that is to be well fed and hydrated.  If you give your body the tools it will protect you from the elements.

It's simply important to remember the name of the game is different in the winter.  Be on your toes and stay safe out there!

 Here are some links with the good and bad results of driving in variable weather.