BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – As if one opponent isn’t enough. Firefighters across the country battles blazes every time they’re called to duty, but during the winter months many have a second obstacle: the freezing cold. “
The challenge comes in fighting the cold itself,” said Lt. Brandon Dahlen with the Center Point Fire Department.
He says firefighters are more susceptible to hypothermia and, in extreme cases, frost bite when the temperatures drop below freezing.
To combat the second of those two foes, Lt. Dahlen says they take precautions before, during, and after they get a call.
“[We encourage them to] drink warm fluids during our rehab time and eat snacks,” he said. “Your body burns more calories to keep itself warm.” He also says they rotate men and women in and out quicker. The very tool fire departments use to combat blazes, water, can also pose problems. The water that doesn’t make it onto the structure or fire can freeze, causing responders to navigate treacherous turf. “We have oil dry or salt we can carry, and put down to get more traction,” explained Lt. Dahlen.
After the battle is over, many firefighters are soaked. If they sit in the elements too long, that can lead to problems.
“We encourage them to carry extra clothing, so after fire operation they can change out,” said Lt. Dahlen.