Local fire departments see difficulties fighting fires in frigid temperatures

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- As temperatures continue to drop, local fire departments are seeing an increase in calls. The frigid temperatures are also causing a delay in their response times and making fighting the fire more difficult.

"Everything takes more effort and more manpower when it's cold outside,” said District Chief for the Rockford Fire Department John Dempsey.

When the weather turns cold and snowy local fire departments say they receive a lot more calls.

"Especially in the winter because there are more hazards. The road conditions are slippery so out trucks aren't going to be traveling as fast down the roads,” said Dempsey.

Getting to the scene of the fire is just half the battle. When crews arrive there are several obstacles that get in the way of fighting the fire.

"We spray water at fires so not only are we cold, but we're going to get wet too. That water creates an ice rink in front of the house which increases slip hazards for not only firefighters but citizens as well. Hydrants could be frozen at these temperatures so we have to make sure those have water in them,” said Dempsey.

"The snow cover on the ground, we don't know what we're stepping on. There could be a hole underneath the snow we don’t know, some rocks,” said firefighter for the Belvidere Fire Department Mark Beck.

When temperatures drop below zero fire departments will call additional companies to allow firefighters time to warm up.

"We enjoy the work no matter what it is, it just takes us longer and it's more difficult,” said Dempsey.

As the temperature drops outside fire crews advise homeowners to be careful inside when using candles, space heaters and other things that could cause a fire.

"If it's possible please shovel your walks and driveways and especially if you have a hydrant in front of your house, shovel that out when it snows so we can have access to it quicker,” said Dempsey.

With an increase in calls during the winter months fire departments encourage drivers to be diligent in pulling over to the right side of the road when an emergency vehicle is driving with its lights on.