Firefighters talk challenges in extreme cold

Local News

Police are investigating possible arson, but firefighters are glad — in this frigid weather — the fire wasn’t worse. Early Thursday morning, firefighters put out the flames at Taylor’s Place Apartments on East 12th Street, quickly. No one was hurt, but it could’ve created many challenges for Sioux Falls Fire Rescue. This week’s below zero temperatures can be hard on first responders.

It’s an easy plan to follow. Layers, layers, and more layers.

Brady Mallory: “It looks like you have some warm gloves.”
Conner Van Dyke: “Yeah, we just try and have a few extra sets around us. I have a bag with extra hats and socks. An extra sweater and an extra coat.”
Brady Mallory: “You’re ready!”
Van Dyke: “Yeah.”

This is just an idea of what firefighters and paramedics have to put on to protect themselves during calls in bitterly cold weather.

“I can’t help the next patient if my hands have frostbite because I decided not to wear gloves,” Stephanie Eggink, firefighter, said.

That’s not all they have to consider when crews are at fires this time of year. They have to keep an eye on their equipment, and make sure nothing freezes up. In these situations, every second could be life or death.

“Anytime we’re using a hose line, anytime we set that down, to make sure the nozzles are cracked open so the water keeps moving or we can freeze up a nozzle or an entire hose line. That can be very problematic if we need water again,” Van Dyke said.

Eggink says it’s important to pay attention to your body in these temperatures. All the gear and adrenaline can keep a firefighter warm, but that can be dangerously deceiving later on.

“It’s easy when you’re fighting fire to forget how cold it is outside, but after a fire when there’s some standing around time, it can be pretty brutal,” Eggink said.

Whether it’s the adrenaline rush or the physical challenge, there are a lot of layers to being a firefighter. When you cut through them all, Eggink and Van Dyke say you’ll find any struggle is worth it to save lives and protect the community.

“It’s a very rewarding career,” Van Dyke said.

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