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Firefighters take on the cold

City of Fort Wayne and Allen County offices were closed Wednesday because of the frigid temperatures, but for firefighters whether it's 110 degrees outside or sub zero, work is a must.

Posted: Jan 30, 2019 6:41 PM
Updated: Jan 31, 2019 8:38 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Space heaters caused one of the first fires in Fort Wayne during the arctic blast.

A fire damaged a home on the 4400 hundred block of Winter Street at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Nobody was hurt, but a person who uses a wheelchair was rescued from the house.

"Some of the things we do to prepare for situations like this is we have maintenance staff that is ready to respond to those incidents and provide any extra equipment they may need. one of the things they are doing right now is picking up the large 5 inch hose that we connect to fire hydrants because as soon as they let the water out of it, it freezes stiff," Deputy Chief Adam O’Connor said.

That wasn't the only fire Fort Wayne Fire Department put out. They also battled a barn fire on Wheelock Road, which resulted in some challenges.

Sometimes extra crews are called in so they can switch out to stay warm. One of the places to stay warm on scene is called a rehab bus.

"At the barn fire, we used a rehab bus that was provided to use by Washington Township. They sent some of their staff and one of their interns to help out and so what we do is we take the bus it's heated. We put the firefighters in there to warm up. They have warm liquids like coffee and such," O’Connor explained.

While they're out there, when they aren't on the bus, they're wearing the same gear they wear in the summer made to deal with heat. O'Connor said it's made for firefighting, not comfort.

"It does provide some thermal protection to keep your body heat inside. It doesn't last forever in these conditions just like any other cold winter jacket wouldn't last forever. Once again, they're putting the fire out with water, and so if it gets wet, it's going to have the opposite effect of keeping them warm freezing to their bodies, so we use them quick," he said.

Then they go right back to the rehab bus.

O'Connor said the best thing you can do, with temps like these is: if you smell or suspect a fire, call quicker than you normally would.

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