Firefighters across Central Virginia deal with bitter cold conditions

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – As cold weathers sweeps across the region, area firefighters are trying their best to stay safe while responding to emergency calls.

Firefighters from Richmond and Henrico County fire departments said battling blazes in any season is never easy but around this time of year, it’s all about being mentally prepared and making sure equipment functions properly.

Richmond firefighter Ricky Payne from Station #23 said this time of year is very busy.

“A lot of things that happen, a lot of people turn on their furnaces, fireplaces are going,” Payne said.

In some cases, furnaces, fireplaces and space heaters cause fires during the winter season.

While crews battle the blazes, Payne said it can be difficult for firefighters to move around when surfaces freeze, but staying safe on the job is a priority.

“We want everyone to come home to their families and we want us to have a safe work environment but we also want to protect the residents of Richmond.” Payne said.

Henrico County Fire Captain James Mellon said crews can be working out in the cold for hours.

Most of the firefighters bring a change of clothes, but they run the risk of getting hypothermia when their closes become soaked with water.

“If we get to a point where a firefighter starts to become hypothermic, we actually put them in the back of an ambulance to get warm,” Mellon said.

Firefighters from both departments offer several safety tips for residents this winter season:

  • Make sure chimneys are clean
  • Ashes stay hot for several days. Use a metal container to remove them
  • Keep space heaters about three feet away from furniture or anything flammable
  • Space heaters should never be plugged into extension cords
  • Check smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries regulary