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Firefighters prepare for cold weather, expect spike in fires

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – First responders in Michiana say Monday’s snow mixed with this week’s record breaking cold temperatures could impact their jobs.

Penn Township Fire Department Chief of Training Brian Kazmierzak says it’s simple to understand why; Firefighters need water to do their job but water freezes in the temps heading toward Michiana.

Kazmierzak says it creates a number of issues.

“We had a valve leak on a truck and it filled up one of the things,” said Kazmierzak. “By the time they got back, it was solid ice. Any time we walk, you know, the slips, trips, falls, those types of things become more of an issue when it’s that cold. If we get wet, it’s a big issue just to rehab our folks to get them warmed up.”

Kazmierzak adds frozen fire hydrants shouldn’t be an issue since this part of the country uses dry barrel fire hydrants. But, if any moisture gets in the hydrant, it can freeze up causing problems for fighting fire.

Kazmierzak says to avoid these problems, they try to keep everything dry. Additionally he says they’ll lay salt or sand. Hoses even have heaters   Kazmierzak says they also call in double the amount of firefighters and keep them on 15 minute shifts.

“Obviously we have a job where it doesn’t matter if it’s 110 degrees out or negative 30 out,” said Kazmierzak. “We’re going to still do it.”

Penn Fire says the record cold temps will bring the heat.

“We will see an increase in fires next week, I almost guarantee it,” said Kazmierzak. “County wide, you will see a small spike just based on people either thawing pipes or using space heaters or those types of things.”

Kazmierzak says common sense will go a long way in preventing fires this week.

Fire smart tips include keeping anything that can burn at least three feet from any heat source, plugging only one heat producing appliance into an outlet at a time, and keeping generators outside and as far way from your house as possible.

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