Freezing temperatures create challenges for firefighters

Posted at 5:42 PM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 20:03:05-05

If you've been outside over the last couple of days, you know it doesn't take long to figure out the best place to be is inside.

But our firefighters don't have a choice.

Now these single-digit temps are causing some chaos.

Trainers say it's hard to duplicate how it feel in frigid, nasty temperatures...especially when their equipment begins to fail.

We saw it not once, but twice overnight.

Two fires with two sets of crews battled Mother Nature more than the flames.

The fires happened near 11th and Harvard and 47th and Fulton.

“Our lines freeze up, supply lines freeze up, when it's cold it makes moving twice as hard,” said Tulsa Fire Captain Ben Weaver.

Cadets got their shot Monday to feel what it's like to be on scene with threatening temperatures...when the danger is cold, not heat.
“I sort of knew what I signed up for when I started,” said cadet Travis Eason.

It's not Eason's favorite weather.
“Outside of here, I just bundle up and just try to stay away from it as much as possible,” he said.

But he's beginning a career where trainers are trying to make those frigid conditions an afterthought.
“We have issues with our pumps, we've had incidents where ladders have been coated in ice and become stuck in the air,” said Tulsa Fire Trainer Captain Chad Miller. “There's really no way to teach for it.”
But they prepare as best they can.

For the Fire Academy's winter class, they know it's all mind over matter.
“We don't want to put them in an environment where they're more worried about being cold than they are about learning the skill we're trying to teach them for the day,” said Miller.

As far as the suit goes, Eason says he doesn't mind it.

He believes it provides protection from those brutal temps, which leaves him to focus on saving homes and lives.
“Lots of hazards, lots of things we have to pay attention to, but that's just part of the job and that's why we joined,” he said.

The Tulsa Fire Academy trains both their summer and winter classes the same for all seasons.

Trainers believe that summer class learns firsthand hardships of its own though.

They say the heat can be even more hazardous to crews than cold temperatures.

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