By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -
A rash of fires in one Mid-Michigan community has been putting a strain on firefighters.
Ten vacant homes in Flint have fallen victim to apparent arson over the past three days. Firefighters are fatigued and Mother Nature's adding stress to the job.
Flint Battalion Chief John Babb said the fires are burning up his crew's morale.
"The same people are going to the fires over and over again. Nobody gets a break," said Babb.
And when the temperatures dip well below freezing, that break becomes even more critical. At Station One, Flint firefighters put their trust in a beat-up heat register to work fast enough to dry out their gear before they're called out again. A trust that's been broken recently.
"It's not a good feeling to get up in the middle of the night and put on that wet gear," said Babb.
In the past three days, Flint's finest have fought 10 fires. The latest fire on the corner of Saginaw and Warren on Flint's north end.
"Psychologically and physically, it's very demanding when it's so bitter cold, and you throw in the factor of being wet and tired and not getting a break," said Babb.
Babb said they often have ambulances on standby to give the firefighters a place to warm up. Something he said might sound better than it is.
"There's not much of a break, that's the reality of it," said Babb.
And to make matters worse, Flint firefighters are working with broken equipment. At a fire Thursday night, the cold froze up an engine and disabled some breathing apparatuses. A fire hydrant broke at Friday morning's fire.
But even with wet gear and faulty equipment, mixed in with the freezing cold temperatures, Babb says his guys are dedicated.
"We do the best we can with what we have. The firefighters do a great job with the limited resources, they really do," Babb said.
Copyright 2013 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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