Working in cold environments for extended periods of time can put a lot of stress on one’s body, even leading to the possibility of frostbite and hypothermia.
And while firefighters are known to battle blazes, they will also will need to face the cold with the surge of incidents that come with the Winter season.
“It does increase. The numbers due to the different heating appliances that are used,” said Captain Joey Chojnacki of the Hagerstown Fire Department.
Many Winter incidents occur due to uncleaned chimneys, unmanned stoves, and space heaters overcrowding extension cords, Captain Chojnacki says, “that’s a recipe for disaster.”
But in terms of ingredients for disasters, firefighters and people working outside will also need to look out for the wind.
“The wind is really what drives the windchill down, which is what it feels like on the surface of your skin,” said Meteorologist Derek Bowen, “and when that wind increases and that windchill drops, that is what can cause the frostbite.”
And that is just one of the issues firefighters need to keep in mind when tackling windy situations…
“Wind can be our worst enemy on a fire. You would hear the term wind-driven fire,” said Captain Chojnacki. “It’ll actually cause a chimney effect, push through a residence. Give it the needed oxygen and the air that it needs to progress and grow.”
And whether one is fighting fires or surviving the cold, a firefighter’s gear serves the best of both worlds.
“Being as it is heavy, it does have that thermal protection,” said Captain Chojnacki. “It is a barrier against the wind and cold as well, so it does serve a dual purpose.”