Firefighters forced to brave more than just flames - WNEM TV 5

Firefighters forced to brave more than just flames

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Cold temperatures have put Mid-Michigan into a freeze. As the polar vortex continues to chill the area, many people decide to stay inside. But some do not have that choice.

Winter's extreme conditions, temperatures hovering right around 0 degrees and wind chills well below zero, don't make fighting fires any easier.

But when the call goes out there is still a job that needs to be done.

"Takes me a while to get unthawed," said a firefighter at a fire on Tuesday night.

Three local fire departments responded to a residential fire in Owosso on Tuesday. Owosso Fire Chief Kevin Lenkart said it started with the elderly homeowner trying to thaw pipes by using a blow torch.

"People kind of move slower, equipment doesn't work best in the weather, so we're kind of hampered from the beginning," said Lenkart.

The old house quickly went up in flames and it didn't take long for the cold to make its presence felt.

"Actually, once the water gets on you, you get another layer of protection, but you can't function," said Captain Brian Johnson of the Corunna-Caledonia Fire Department. "You can't move, the clothes become so slicked up, you can't do anything."

So, in dangerously cold conditions, firefighters have to resort to different tactics.

"Rotate the guys in and out, we don't want anyone to get hurt," said Johnson.

A safety precaution taken to make sure everyone makes it home safe.

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