TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Structure fires are common in the winter, especially with the use of artificial space heaters that can easily cause a spark. But the more frigid the temperature, the harder it is for firefighters to do their job.
"Just even responding could be a challenge," Capt. Mike Romstadt of the Toledo Fire Department said. "The snow and the ice, people parking on some of the streets. [...] As soon as you get to the location, you're dealing with what's presented to you."
Crews have to check to make sure they have an adequate water supply at all times. They cannot always rely on hydrants because the water could be frozen when they arrive on scene.
"If it is frozen, we need to let all the crews know," Capt. Romstadt said. "And it kinda changes up your game plan. It changes up your tactics."
The Toledo Fire Department says crews encountered frozen hydrants when fighting the fire that broke out Thursday morning at South End Bar and Grille. They did work around that challenge with water stored on board their fire engines.
Each fire engine has 500 gallons of water.
"That's how we can start fighting the fire with that," Capt. Romstadt said. "We always want a dedicated water supply through the hydrant system."
The colder the weather, the more crews have to pay attention to their gear.
"We always talk about layering in the cold weather and we wanna do that. And then we put our fire gear on which protects us from the heart of the fire, insulates us some and then we go in the fire, fight the fires, and we get sweaty and hot," Capt. Romstadt said. "You come out and now you're cold and wet and that's some thing you have to deal with."
Despite the challenges, their main priority remains saving the lives of others.