While winter fires can present appropriate challenges, bounded bonfire administration admiral say the men and women who action these blazes are able-bodied able to handle algid — alike frigid — temperatures.
“We pre-plan for fires all the time,” said Libertyville Bonfire Arch Rich Carani. “It can be 100 degrees or it can be a 5-below-zero day, and the bonfire approach are still the same. You aloof accept added ecology apropos you accept to accord with.”
In the deathwatch of a bonfire that Chicago bonfire admiral alleged the city’s better in seven years — a bonfire that angry a Bridgeport barn into a afire ice alcazar — as able-bodied as a bonfire aloof arctic of the Illinois-Wisconsin bound that appropriate 300 firefighters from both states to accommodate it, burghal departments say they accept appropriate precautions in abode for aggressive winter fires, alike behemothic ones.
Joe Schelstreet, acting bonfire arch of the St. Charles Bonfire Department, said in brutal conditions, the administration will alarm the bounded academy commune for a “warming bus” in which admiral can agitate off the cold.
“If you’re putting bodies out in brutal weather, they accept to be adequate for that,” Schelstreet said. “If they accept to accomplish for continued periods of time, they accept to accept recuperation periods aback they break balmy and dry. Hypothermia is a absolute concern.”
Dave Wheelock, bonfire arch of Lake Zurich, agreed that freezing temperatures affectation an added danger. He said Lake Zurich has alternate aid agreements with adjoining communities that acquiesce the boondocks to alarm added bodies in aback needed.
“What’s best important is alternating bodies out,” Wheelock said. “When you’re ambidextrous with baptize and it’s aught degrees out, that needs to happen. … We’ll usually alarm for advice aboriginal on because we apperceive we’ll be alternating those crews frequently.”
Wheelock said his crews abrasion at atomic two or three layers aback they go out to fires in algid weather, and he additionally encourages them to abrasion continued underwear or a agnate band of aegis on abnormally frigid days.
Beyond those responding to the fire, firefighters are actual anxious about the appulse the temperatures accept on the bodies at the arena of a accomplishment operation, Park Ridge Deputy Bonfire Arch Jeff Sorensen said. Injured citizens charge to be taken out of the algid immediately, which can be abnormally arduous aback responding to vehicular accidents breadth extracting a victim can booty time.
“They’re basically actuality attacked by the elements,” Sorensen said.
Schelstreet said addition crisis of angry fires aback it’s algid is the accident of bottomward on the ice that forms from corrupt water. For that reason, he said, all of his department’s apparatuses accept baby containers of salt. The administration additionally calls the town’s Public Works Administration to accept the breadth about the bonfire salted.
“Anything that gets wet will freeze,” Schelstreet said. “Even if we’re idling, we’re circulating baptize [in the vehicles]. Aback we appear aback from a call, we booty added precautions to accomplish abiding things don’t benumb accessible or benumb closed.”
Nonetheless, Carani said, for the best part, the approach will be the aforementioned whether it’s the average of January or the average of August.
“I wouldn’t say we do annihilation abnormally added than you accept to use added attention because of the ice,” Carani said. “The ice builds up on the building, authoritative a weight issue.”
The Bridgeport adjacency and Burlington, Wis., fires’ aftermaths go far to accomplish Carani’s point. The arctic facades present a crisis of architecture collapse, Schelstreet said.
“You accept a fire-weakened anatomy to activate with,” Schelstreet said of the Bridgeport warehouse, “and again you’re activity to put added weight that the architecture was never advised to authority in the aboriginal place.”
Despite the challenges, Schelstreet said they’re aloof allotment of the job.
“We alternation on fires in all sorts of weather,” Schelstreet said. “You’re a firefighter aback it’s 70 and sunny, and you’re a firefighter aback it’s 30 below.”
Tribune anchorman Jonathan Bullington contributed.
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