In the harsh, cold temperatures we will be braving into the new year, most of us are lucky enough to be able to stay indoors, donning hats, coats, gloves and boots to venture outdoors only briefly.
Not so for our first responders, who must endure long periods of time in the bitter cold fighting fires, enforcing the law and treating and transporting the injured to the hospital.
New Britain firefighters were on the scene of a fire Thursday morning as the temperatures hovered at 9 degrees. Hartford Fire Department also responded to a fire on Thursday morning as other blazes large and small were reported around the state and firefighters, police and EMTs answered the calls.
On Thursday night, as wind-chills dipped below zero, a fatal fire in the Bronx left 12 dead.
Fighting fires in extreme cold is an added danger for firefighters because their turnout gear is designed to protect against flames, not below average temperatures.
And, water used to drench a blaze can quickly freeze under foot and cause hazardous conditions.
Add large amounts of snow that cover hydrants and roadways and conditions become even more dangerous for firefighters and rescue personnel. Most of us believe these elements simply come with the job for first responders. But as citizens we can take steps to help by being proactive and using common sense.
Don’t park your vehicle in a fire lane or block a fire hydrant. Shovel snow away from hydrants and clear sidewalks. Take precautions at home like installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and don’t leave space heaters unattended.
And most off all, appreciate the work these men and women do each day. They could save your life.