Fighting fire and ice

Fire fighters battle fire and ice at a home in Swisher on New Year's Day. (CBS2/FOX28)

Crews who battled a house fire in Swisher late New Year’s Day say they were fighting more than the flames.

“We're fighting equipment freezing up because as soon as it gets wet, you know we freeze up like a popsicle,” says Chief Glen Heims of the Jefferson-Monroe Fire Department in Swisher.

The cold is a problem faced by firefighters in communities big and small turning their most valuable resource into one of their biggest problems.

Captain Rob Schlitter of the Marion Fire Department says they have to be very careful of expanding ice.

“It is possible that some damage could occur to nozzles or hose lines, we have to test it when we get back,” explains Schlitter.

The cold is a big risk for people as well as equipment.

“When you're outside in this kind of cold weather, frostbites a real health hazard that you have to deal with,” says Schlitter. “We have to watch our people that they're not starting to show the signs of frostbite or hypothermia,” he adds.

If a crew member begins to show signs of frostbite or hypothermia they can move to a truck or return to the station to warm back up.

While crews work to put water on the fire a lot of it ends up on the ground creating slick conditions.

“We try to get ice melt down we call the city shop to come out and spread salt and sand on the roads but that's going to take time and we have to be aware of it if we're going to be on scene for several hours,” says Schlitter.

That ice can stick around long after fire fighters leave the scene so he says it’s also important for residents to be aware of slick areas.

You can help out first responders in your own neighborhood by making sure fire hydrants are not blocked by snow or ice.

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