CLEVELAND — While some were lucky enough to work from home during Thursday’s near-blizzard conditions, Cleveland firefighters were out battling the elements while also battling flames at two house fires in the city.
As you can imagine, the winter weather does not make things easy.
Lt. Mike Norman, of the Cleveland Division of Fire, said firefighters ran into some challenges getting water in these wintry conditions while putting out a house fire on Signet Avenue.
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“That's one thing this time of year, the hydrants can be difficult to access. We ask people to shovel their hydrants out if they think about it, or if they can do it safely, give us three feet of space and open it up to the street so we can find it quicker in an emergency,” said Norman.
He said frigid temperatures mean water can freeze up inside hose lines, in firefighter equipment, and on surfaces around where they’re trying to work causing the potential for slip and fall injuries.
“And it limits the amount and the duration that you can work. It's more challenging, your coat gets wet, your coat will freeze and that makes it more challenging when you're climbing ladders when you're breaking windows when you're advancing hose line. Everything that we're doing becomes more difficult because of the weight of the ice on your back,” said Norman.
Norman said things are made even more complicated by the snow, which means crews have to drive slower to get to fires.
“We're driving on the same roads that everybody else is driving on. So it may take us a little longer sometimes. We want to be careful. I always remind people to move right if they see the lights. Move right for lights because we want that left lane, we want that high-speed lane so we can get where we're going,” said Norman.
But overall, he said winter weather is nothing they can’t handle.
“We’re Cleveland firefighters. This isn't our first time-fighting fires in this weather. We have four seasons in Cleveland, so you need to be ready for fighting fires in the hot summertime and fighting fires in the cold winters. But we're ready for it, we trained for this. We're prepared for this. We're equipped for this and if you call us, we’re coming,” said Norman.
Norman also wants to remind folks to never pass a responding fire truck which could be dangerous for both firefighters and drivers trying to pass them.
He said it's best to give trucks as much space as possible, just as drivers would for a plow truck or any other large vehicle.
Jade Jarvis is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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