LONE TREE, Colo. (KDVR) — You have heard it over and over for the past few days. It is best that you stay inside and away from the freezing temperatures and wind if you can. But we all know that some people have to brave the elements for work.
The South Metro Fire Rescue crew FOX31 talked to in Lone Tree had been responding to calls all day Thursday, ready to help the community while keeping themselves warm too.
Preparing for Mother Nature
Fire crews are used to working in the cold and dark, but the cold right now is different.
“We come in at 6:30 in the morning for shift change. We are on 48-hour shifts, so we’ll go home Saturday morning at 6:30 or 7 in the morning,” said Capt. Brett Pickford with South Metro.
With 48 hours in the bitter cold, Pickford said crews have to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws their way.
“Just the unknown duration that you are going to be out there and the wind is a tough thing to account for,” Pickford said. “That exposed skin when you are out on the highway trying to wear a fire helmet or trying to keep everything warm is tough.”
“Really some of the typical uniform policies that firefighters would have on a normal day kind of go out the window on a day like today. It’s more about survival. It’s more about them being comfortable when they go out into their environment,” South Metro Fire Public Information Officer Eric Hurst said. “Crews may be a little more relaxed underneath their gear, but the typical fire jackets you see are actually perfect for keeping crews safe.
“The outside of this material is fire resistive to actual flame and then the inside there is a thermal barrier. So this thermal barrier material really helps keep the cold out. So aside from the sweats and warmer clothing that they are wearing underneath, this is a pretty good barrier,” Hurst said.
Fire crews often work with situations that involve water, which can make things trickier, but they have it all planned out.
“It’s really easy to get frozen hands, areas around their face that aren’t protected, that as well. So if we do get on scene of something where they are going to be working outside for an extended period, we are probably going to be calling in a lot more firefighters and rotating personnel out of the frigid cold environment where they can go get warm and safe,” Hurst said.
Firefighters urge extra caution during deep freeze
Crews were busy responding to calls throughout the day Thursday. Team members told FOX31 that medical calls make up 60% of their volume. But on days with dangerously low temperatures, they see a lot of people experiencing things like falls or accidents that leave people vulnerable to frostbite or hypothermia when the temperatures are this low.
On top of the slip and falls, you can imagine they are getting a lot of calls about bursting pipes.
People always ask what they can do to help our first responders in these situations. They said the best thing you can do to help is to decrease the chances of an emergency by being extra cautious over the coming days.