Cold Conditions cause first responders to adjust to the weather

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s time to break out the coats and crank up the heat. Bitter-cold weather is on its way.

It’s bad enough when you spend your days working indoors, but what if you’re working outdoors in subfreezing temperatures and dealing with water?

In Mississippi, we are used to the hot and humid weather.

That’s true for area first responders too. But this week we could be facing temperatures in the single digits.

And it takes some extra training to fight the freeze as well as the fires.

Around North Mississippi, everyone is bracing for freezing weather. That includes the area’s First Responders.

They have to be ready for any emergency in any conditions.

That’s why firefighters like Columbus Fire and Rescue Chief Duane Hughes prepare months ahead.

“Around this time when the fall hits we change gear here at Columbus Fire and Rescue and we begin preparing for the colder months with the personnel and the equipment,” said Chief Hughes.

When temperatures drop they have to be mindful of their own safety, even while they are trying to save others.

“Once we get to freezing temperatures we are aware to keep our trucks inside in the heated bays and this also become a concern on safety on the fire ground the water that we spray may create icing conditions and lead to slip and trip hazards and again things function differently in the cold,” said Chief Hughes.

And – Practice Makes Perfect.

That’s why Chief Hughes says he and his men practice as if they were in freezing weather.

“Equipment that we would normally practice taking out and taking time drills on. We have to take extra time and slow down and keep in mind that these different materials and metals react differently in cold weather. We are making sure we don’t break them and making sure we can use everything in a smooth and efficient manner, ” said Chief Hughes.

And last but not least they have to think about themselves when going out during an emergency in all conditions.

“We take extra time just like we do in the hotter parts of the month as far as we had for our firefighters and we have really good relationships with the baptist memorial hospital. We have engine crews on the scene that check vitals. We also have the trucks as warming centers. After so much time on the fire scene those firefighters are directed to warm up inside the trucks,” said Chief Hughes.

Fire Chief Hughes wants to remind everyone that while you’re trying to stay warm, be extra cautious when using space and gas heaters.

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