Firefighters warn of dangers when temperatures drop

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – Broken water mains and house fires are just some of the dangers of this week's cold weather. Firefighters are prepared for what could be a busy week dealing with them.

As the temperatures fall, on-duty Pascagoula firefighters are turning up the heat to make sure they can reach you when you need them most.

"We just cranked all our heaters up here, so we have problems with these vehicles starting," said Lt. Bart Culpepper with the Pascagoula Fire Department.  "Keep the engines warm so we don't have any problems with trucks starting so we can get out quick."

Culpepper and his fellow firemen listed a myriad of reasons the 13 men on duty might don their uniforms and brave the frigid night air this week.

"We've got pipes bursting, things like that," Culpepper explained.  "We'll get a basic EMS call, heart attacks, hypothermia, stuff like that."

"Probably broken water mains, alarms going off due to dropping water pressure," added Lt. Scott Andrews, also with the department.  "Space heaters are a big problem because people leave them unattended.  They can cause fires."

Firefighters said they're also concerned people without shelter may need to light fires for warmth. They said they hope anyone left out in the cold will find a local shelter or other refuge from the cold. Otherwise, a small fire could spin out of control and become a big problem.

"When it starts getting cold they start fires and we have a lot of wood fires this time of the year trying to stay warm," Culpepper said.

They said fighting fires in below-freezing temperatures could pose more threats to their safety than usual.

"You gotta deal with the water freezing.  If you get wet it freezes on you.  If it freezes on the roof it makes the roof slick," Andrews explained.  "It's hazardous because you could slip and fall."

Whatever challenges the cold may bring, local firefighters said they're ready to respond.

"It's a possibility its going to be a busy week," said Andrews.

The firefighters want to remind everyone to pay close attention to space heaters and make sure they aren't too close to anything.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.