Bitter cold affecting area firefighters and their equipment - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bitter cold affecting area firefighters and their equipment

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The chilling cold not only affects firefighters but also their equipment.

Over the weekend, Waterloo firefighters responded to a house fire in the 200 block of Madison Street where a fire hydrant was frozen.

This morning around 9 a.m., Mother Nature tested Cedar Rapids firefighters battling a garage fire in the 100 block of Brentwood Dr. NE. The fire spread to the home's attic, forcing two people out into the cold as firefighters handled ice build up around the scene.

Thankfully, firefighters tell us in neither of those fires did the ice build-up or the hydrants delay their ability to respond to the blaze in a timely manner. With 500-700 gallons of water, these are just two of the many challenges firefighters face in the bitter cold.

Waterloo Battalion Chief Mike Moore says, "The guys, more than several times a day and especially when they come back from another call, check to make sure there is no ice anywhere in the engine that could clog up a hose or a nozzle or anything like that."

He says hydrants don't freeze often, but when they do-it can be critical. 

"It creates some excitement a little bit for us. After that 500-700 gallons is gone off the engine, that's our water supply but luckily there's a hydrant every 300 feet so we have a backup, " Moore adds.

Moore says he worries more about simply locating a hydrant in the first place which is something each of us can help with by clearing snow from the area. More than anything, Moore says safety is their top priority.

"As much as I worry about my equipment functioning at a fire, I gotta worry about my guys too. That's the big thing, it can take a lot out of you, the cold, and it can be dangerous, very dangerous," he says.

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