Bitter cold creates additional challenges for local firefighters

Staying inside is not an option for firefighters who are often called on more during the winter season as people are cooking more inside and using items such as space heaters and candles.  

In Saint Paul, Minnesota, District Fire Chief Glen Jenkins said fire fighters have responded to at least three reports of fires in the last four days, when it has been dangerously cold across the metro. 

It is a reminder that these first responders have more to worry about than putting out a fire when there are below-freezing temperatures.  

"Water and ice don’t play nice together," Jenkins told FOX 9. "We have to worry about equipment freezing, the fire truck freezing and the fire hoses freezing together."  

The other concern is the safety of firefighters as they are getting wet and staying outside for a long period of time, which means hypothermia and frostbite are big risks.  

"We try to rotate people as much as we can," said Jenkins. "We bring in EMT buses that warm them up and sometimes when it’s extreme [cold], we bring in the Red Cross, food and coffee as well." 

Chief Jenkins said while his team of firefighters in Saint Paul keep a positive attitude during the winter months, the community can help the department put out fires faster.  

"The big thing during the wintertime is to clear out the hydrants on the corner for us. The faster that we can get to a hydrant and get water, the faster we can put out a fire," he said. "That means less water damage and less fire damage to a home for us."