COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WKRN) — Fighting fires is a dangerous business. Add ice and snow and sub-freezing temperatures, and it becomes even more demanding.
Columbia Fire & Rescue is prepared for just about any eventuality, starting with studded snow tires to provide better grip for fire apparatus.
“They keep us from sliding off the road or give us the traction to climb a hill,” said Brian O’Cain of Columbia Fire & Rescue.
According to O’Cain, Columbia firetrucks are also equipped with automatic traction systems that envelop the tires in chains with the push of a button from the front cab.
“So when we have snow or ice, it provides better traction. Once deployed you can tell a world of difference in the taking off,” O’Cain said.
Firefighters also use spikes they can fasten to their boots so they don’t slip.
“We are spraying water, that freezes on houses. So we have collapse hazards and freezes in front of the apparatus and we have trip hazards,” O’Cain said.
Assistant Chief O’Cain says freezing conditions present many challenges from fighting fires to responding to calls.
“We typically have more fires, because people are using alternative sources of heating, and when people use alternative sources there is a higher chance those fires are going to happen,” O’Cain said.
Incidents that might not rise to an emergency in normal conditions can become acute quickly in sub-freezing temperatures.
“It can be a small incident, an elderly person falling, and it can be something minor on a normal day, but in this colder weather this could actually cause severe injury or death if they are exposed a short period of time,” O’Cain said.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires occur more in the winter than any other season and heating equipment is the cause of a majority of those fires and deaths.