Polar Vortex Creates Challenges For First Responders

by Mackenzie Stasko on January 7, 2014 at 6:44 am

While most of us spend only minutes outside in this weather, first responders are required to stay until the job is finished. For the Zanesville Fire Department, they make sure to take the proper precautions to avoid slipping, getting hypothermia or getting over exhausted.

"We try to rotate guys in and out just to keep them warm, when we go into a fire, we have a lot of water flowing and once we get wet and come outside in the conditions, then our gear freezes, we get cold easily and quick, so we try and get dry gear on and rotate guys in and out, keep them dry and warm," explained Brad Tignor, a firefighter with ZFD.

Tignor said the department’s biggest safety concern is water. When extinguishing a fire in this weather, the water can easily freeze, creating ice, and a safety hazard for firefighters.

"It does take a toll because when you’re inside sweating, using all your strength up. Then when you come out in the cold, you’re kind of weak, you don’t have any energy and you tend to get weaker quicker."

Wearing wool, dressing in layers, and frequently changing into dry gear are key steps Tignor and his fellow firefighters do to prevent a trip to the hospital.