Frigid temperatures bring challenges for first responders

DuBois, Clearfield County, Pa. - Deputy DuBois fire Chief Joe Mitchell has been fighting fires for nearly two decades. "My first fire was in the wintertime," recalls Mitchell.  

He smiles as he remembers that moment for him, being baptism by fire or rather- ice. "I was parked a couple blocks behind the hill and it was all you can do to get up the hill because of the water on the road," says Mitchell. 

Seventeen years later Mitchell is still fighting in the frigid cold along side the five DuBois fire companies. 
Wednesday morning on Albert Court in DuBois the weather was giving first responders some problems. Fire Chief Ben Blakely says it can get serious very quick. 

"Every speck of water that hits something freezes up instantaneously. We have guys climbing ladders and on the roofs. It creates a very dangerous situation," says Blakely.
 
Large amounts of water is needed to put out the fire, but it can even freeze within the hydrants. "If the water doesn't come out we know there's a problem," adds Mitchell. Crews had to flush the hydrant to gain enough water pressure for the hose.

"We'll worry about getting it shut off later the most important thing is making the fire go out," adds Mitchell.  

With the hydrants flowing, all the extra water on the ground quickly freezes in  cold conditions. The icy road can create an extra hazard for drivers on the road, even after the fire's been put out. 

On Wednesday the intersection of  W. Webber Ave. and S. Jared St. quickly flooded from the water first responders used. "We got probably about 5 inches of water on the road that we have to take care of," says Blakely.  

Crews needing to call in in for backup. DuBois city workers came in to  plow and salt the road to prevent accidents.

Mitchell says no two fires are the same, teaching him a lot about safety over the years. 

However, he says The key in any weather climate is to listen to your body. "It's all about knowing your limitations. how to move in ice and how much cold you can actually take." 

The DuBois department is making sure all their volunteers are ready for the next call. 
 


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