It is just about that time! The air is cold, the days are shorter, and you can smell the wood burning in the air. That is right folks WINTER IS BACK! Around here we refer to winter as fire season, as the chances of going to a fire are significantly increased by people using a variety of methods to heat their homes.
I have seen everything from your standard wood stove/fireplace, to people leaving their oven door open to heat there homes and apartments. These creative methods of heating can create a huge increase in call loads, and cal types for us from chimney fires, to burn patients.
It takes a ton of extra preparation on our end to be ready for these responses here are a few older posts where I outline some tips on how to survive the winter:
Those above posts point out just a few things to put into play before you try to tackle winter fireground operations.
Bottom line is the winter makes everything we do that much tougher, its cold, dark more hours of the day than light, and did I mention it is cold? Well then we add snow, ice, freezing rain, wind and the stakes of the game just got upped! It is hard enough for some people to pull a hoseline on a normal day, now add in a few inches of snow or a slippery surface and this task just west from tough to dangerous. Many a fireman have been put out of the job, or on the light duty shelf during the winter time.
Also take into account what we know about response times, building construction, and fire behavior. Fires are going to burn at the same rate during this time yet, during times of precipitation our response times, and deployment of resources (companies, people, hoselines) is slowed to a crawl. With everything going slower yet our enemy moving at the same rate of speed, we have to adjust our tactics, let me say that again, WE HAVE TO ADJUST OUR TACTICS! We can not go about these fires the same when our response and deployment times are doubled and even tripled in some cases.
We have to overcome these factors with increased training, and planning. Instead of just pulling hoselines on flat land during your training, pull them up a hill. I know some places even have restrictions on training in poor weather conditions, but if we are expected to fight in these conditions I feel like we should embrace them. Im not saying do 3 hour drills in the snow, but if it snows maybe pull a line and then pack it back, go out in the dark and pull some lines, or at minimum go outside with your turnout gear and walk around to see how difficult it is to walk around in the snow and how much you have to adjust. Just doing these small things could make the difference in someone’s life, or the building becoming a parking lot.
So now is the time to get geared up and ready, because this winter has already been bad for some, and it could be a rough one after the mild one we had in my area last year.
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, STAY SAFE, and STAY WARM!