Winter weather makes 'routine' calls more dangerous

Despite the adversity severe weather presents, firefighters rise to the challenge


Firefighters and our public safety partners from coast to coast are once again dealing with the effects of severe winter weather this week. At the outset I have to say that I grew up in Chicago, so I'm no stranger to snow, ice, wind and freezing temperatures.

Still, many areas of the United States are unaccustomed to this type of weather and, as a result, they can have major difficulties adapting to its impacts.

According to the National Weather Service, almost 100 million people have been affected by winter weather conditions over the past few days. Fire departments in regions where snow is a rarity are seeing accumulations of several inches, causing transportation snarls and infrastructure failures in locations where the capacity to deal with such events is severely limited by resource constraints and other factors.

Record cold temperatures are gripping many parts of the U.S. and Canada, making even "routine" incident responses more difficult than usual.

Still, like any other time, we see our brother and sister firefighters, and our allied emergency services personnel, rising to meet the challenges. From broken sprinkler pipes, to mass casualty incidents, to firefighting through bitter windchills and ice accumulation, fire departments never get a snow day.

Stay safe and keep warm!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel — FireRescue1's editorial advisor — is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

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