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The Question
by FR1 Community

11 tricks to stay warm fighting winter fires

Cold weather is brutal on firefighting equipment and even more so on firefighters

By FireRescue1 Staff

Many firefighters will tell you that they prefer to fight fire on a hot summer day rather than in the dead of winter. Temperatures near or below zero are brutal on equipment and body.

We asked readers how they stay warm on scene. Here are some of the more interesting — and funny — responses. What tricks do you use to keep warm on the fireground during winter?

"Cold weather bag is a must, have dry socks, T-shirt, sweatshirt, skull cap, gloves, a towel to dry off, heat packs for your gloves and boots and a plastic bag to put the wet stuff in. I can remember being out at fires for 10 straight hours in the cold, that bag saved me plenty if times." — Carlton R. Crawley

"Headlights are good for warming hands." — John Klem

"A wise firefighter told me to find a hole in the ground, twist an ankle in it, and ride the first medic to the hospital. Joking." — Randy Anderson

"In Wisconsin, we get a layer of ice built up on us; it's windproof, too. Just don't thaw out until you're ready to head back to the station." — Steve Rist

"I keep pocket warmers in my gear rack." — Elijah Gonzalez Gray

"Make an arrangement for a school bus to be available. They're not high on creature comforts but warm and out of the weather." — Bubba TwoBugles

"We have a Keurig coffee machine hooked up on the ladder and each has our own mug onboard labeled can man, irons, roof man, etc." Jeffrey Bingaman

"Wear rubber exam gloves under fire gloves. And, yes, put bread bags on before boots; feet will stay dry and warm." — Melody Kinney-Hollenbach

"A bottle of peppermint schnapps." — Jeff Lollmann

"Don't stand at the exhaust to keep warm. Extraction systems are provided at the station to keep these fumes out of your lungs." — Kevin Cormican

"I had an old wetsuit top with half sleeves that was a few sizes too large for me, so it fit loose and was easy to get into quickly. I used it as one of my bottom layers and it kept my core temperature where it needed to be." — Gary Schlotterbeck

About the author

"The Question" section brings together user-generated articles from our Facebook page based on questions we pose to our followers, as well as some of the best content we find on Quora, a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users who are often experts in their field. The site aggregates questions and answers for a range of topics, including public safety. The questions and answers featured here on FR1 are posted directly from Quora, and the views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of FR1.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Dee Vogler Dee Vogler Wednesday, January 15, 2014 5:28:20 PM use the exhaust to dry gloves or keep them warm while changing a bottle.
Ken Smith Ken Smith Wednesday, January 15, 2014 5:29:32 PM teach great fire prevention ..............then hope like hell
Jeffrey Flaker Jeffrey Flaker Wednesday, January 15, 2014 5:50:36 PM Ice on gear will keep you warm, don't thaw it until you are ready to hang up the gear to dry.....Otherwise the water will get into the gear
Steve Wolf Steve Wolf Wednesday, January 15, 2014 6:39:20 PM The flood lights of your light tower is also a great heater. I've used mine numorus times at the pump panel.
Raymond Adomonis Raymond Adomonis Wednesday, January 15, 2014 7:21:47 PM Check with your local Salvation Army, to see if they have a "Sally Wagon" operation. A hot cup of coffee, or hot chocolate, is always a welcomed sight.
Noah Kleugh Noah Kleugh Wednesday, January 15, 2014 7:51:24 PM As a pump operator I would take a salvage roll of hose and put it in front of the pump panel. This way I was able to keep my feet out of the water running down the street. The problem with that is we would have to chip the hose out to put it back on the truck.
John Borysewicz John Borysewicz Thursday, January 16, 2014 9:00:55 AM Thin, layered clothing under the turnout gear. UnderArmor knee socks are great. And a personal gear bag with extra gloves, hat, hood, etc., is a must.
Marc Blaine Marc Blaine Friday, January 17, 2014 9:22:39 AM Heavy WOOL socks for your feet. They'll keep you warm even when wet. If you can't get them locally, try Campmor or REI.- A swipe of anti-perspirant on the soles of your feet stop sweating. Dry feet=warm feet= happy firefighter. - Wear your Nomex/PBI hood around your neck, even if you're not on interior duty.- Alcohol does not keep you warm, actually opens the skin pores, making you lose more heat ( not so bad once you're back home though.) Always have some dry clothes in your locker and a spare set of gloves.
Larry Perry Larry Perry Saturday, January 18, 2014 5:27:40 PM Size your bunker boots a little larger than you would normally for your foot size. Wear bama socks year round. Keep extra bama socks on the rigs. Just don't wear those larger boots without the socks, if you are ate attached to the skin on your keel. The looser boot will blister like nothing you have ever experienced before.
Matthew Quinn Matthew Quinn Saturday, January 18, 2014 8:06:48 PM Don't stop. If you stop, it's all over.
Elmer Panther Elmer Panther Saturday, January 18, 2014 8:14:23 PM Two pairs of socks put on one pair .then grab two plastic bread sacks over the first socks then add a second pair of socks over the bread sacks .it works for me.
Jeffrey L. Stanley Jeffrey L. Stanley Saturday, January 18, 2014 9:26:27 PM Wear breathable wicking undershirts and pants that is the most important step.
Morgan Young Morgan Young Saturday, January 18, 2014 9:32:31 PM a second bag of clothes on the truck seems like the best idea. the Schnaps might be good anti-freeze, but a bad idea for work.
Gilbert Lee Gilbert Lee Saturday, January 18, 2014 10:04:43 PM You know david Blackburn ?
Morgan Young Morgan Young Saturday, January 18, 2014 10:13:13 PM Yea. Canadian working as us flight medic.
Nathan Lewis Nathan Lewis Saturday, January 18, 2014 11:07:42 PM Never give the new guy the nozzle during winter cause your gonna get wet!
Kimberly Spark Kimberly Spark Sunday, January 19, 2014 7:29:40 AM The ice is so true! Learned that on my first fire 23 years ago.
WindyJo Ralls WindyJo Ralls Sunday, January 19, 2014 8:11:51 AM lots of good ideas for anyone not just firefighters. keep extra clothing in your car. granola bars for energy if you get stranded in a storm. You just don't know about Iowa storms. Get stuck, be prepared. Especially a blanket in your car not just in the trunk you may not be able to get to it.
Kyle Morris Kyle Morris Sunday, January 19, 2014 9:48:47 AM Commandeer a bandaid wagon
Jason Miller Jason Miller Sunday, January 19, 2014 2:21:02 PM Move up to any Chief spot and stay warm in the IC car ;-)
Nick Gaff Nick Gaff Sunday, January 19, 2014 6:27:33 PM Never take your gloves off if you want to keep your fingers warm, once they come off you will never get them warm again.
Donald Catenacci Donald Catenacci Sunday, January 19, 2014 8:15:01 PM What's with the bread bags in your boots? If your boots leak they need to be replaced. Why would you wear boots that will allow water, and other liquids in onto your feet?
Jim Schmitt Jim Schmitt Monday, January 20, 2014 12:20:34 PM And they hold all that sweat in , just waiting to freeze. Good wool socks.
Gina Newell Rodgers Gina Newell Rodgers Thursday, January 30, 2014 11:24:56 AM Some really good ideas!

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