Firefighters fight flames and frigid temperatures

Firefighters fight flames and frigid temperatures »Play Video

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Fire crews worked in frigid temperatures Wednesday night to put out a fire that destroyed a basement apartment and the Asian market above it on Ustick Rd.

When it's cold outside firefighters must handle frigid temperatures along with fighting the flames. 

A main concern on Ustick Road Wednesday night was the slick walking grounds.

"Obviously we fight the fire with water," said Fire Battalion Chief Steve Rasulo. "In this cold temperature, it freezes quickly so it makes footing really dangerous, so slips and trips and fall hazards are very likely to happen."

Battalion Chief Rasulo said he's thankful no injuries happened Wednesday night, but there are other challenges fire crews face in the winter months. One is with the regulators, which Fire Battalion Chief Tom Pawek said firefighters wear on every fire.

"When you exhale you have moisture in your breath and what happens it gets trapped sometimes in your regulator and causes it to freeze and can cause some problems drawing air," Chief Pawek said.

When it comes to driving the trucks on snow and ice-covered roads, fire crews can also face issues.

"On our engines and on our trucks we do have what are called insta-chains," Chief Pawek said. "So, they drop down if we need to, if we're losing traction and they circulate a chain underneath the tires."

But he said those chains only help the trucks get moving, not stop them. And the turnouts crews wear can also be a concern in freezing temperatures. When the suits are wet and cold, hypothermia can set in.

"Once you get cold, it's hard to get warm again, so we make a conscious effort to when we rehab our firefighters after a fire," Chief Pawek said. "We make sure they get warm and stay warm and then we can utilize them again, and we can go back and fight fire again."

Chief Pawek also said a lot of the mechanical issues start happening when the temperatures get below zero. And the pressure and circumference of the hoses allows water to run through the hoses fairly well until temperatures drop below zero as well.