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Fire & Ice
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Most of our experiences with the bitter cold might include walking from our house to the garage or from the parking lot to the front door where we work. But imagine having to stay outside for an hour and someone spraying you down with water. Thats what its like to be an Eastern Iowa firefighter during some of the most dangerous wind chills weve seen in decades. A fire last night in Cedar Rapids quickly turned from miserable to treacherous, freeze your face work amid fire and ice. Fire Department Information Officer Greg Buelow says it adds a new element of danger on every call. Hose lines were freezing up, the self-contained breathing apparatus regulators .. they couldnt even change the bottles they were frozen. Monday, between runs at Central Fire Station, firefighters found out just how bad it really was in the minus 40 degree wind chills by using a thermal imaging camera. Focused on a fireman who just came in from the cold, the ghostly images show differences in temperature. You can clearly see the white heated part of his hand on his palm and the back of his hand, but the black parts of the picture show frigid fingers heading for frost bite. That just shows you where the heat was concentrated on the center part of the hand. But his fingers were black and it shows you how cold they got literally within 20 to 30 seconds of being outside. Its the kind of conditions Vinton crews faced yesterday. Firefighters with toes, ears, fingers and noses especially vulnerable to the cold. They took shifts battling the flames and trying to get out of the wind. Dangerous work that has fire crews all across the area begging the rest of us to be careful. Everything turns into an ice rink almost immediately when you try to apply water, so its been very challenging for them. The best thing people can do is try to prevent fires in the first place. Buelow says just two things would make life easier for everyone. He says try not to use space heaters, but if you do clear the area around them and dont leave the room and dont use an oven to heat the house. He says its just asking for a kitchen fire and carbon monoxide problems.