For firefighters, winter makes battling blazes more difficult

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Local firefighters work year-round to keep our communities safe. And this time of year, they're not only battling a blaze but they're often times battling Mother Nature as winter presents its own challenges.

"First off, we start throwing water and things freeze very quickly,” said St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson. ‘‘It makes tools harder to hold onto. It makes your clothing, your helmet, your air tanks, everything heavier because all the accumulated ice. Hauling equipment in and out of the building becomes more difficult. Everything you try and do manually—or physically—becomes a burden."

Look no further than the recent fire on the Eads Bridge.

"We've got guys working 100 feet off the river on a superstructure of a bridge, and they're using water, and there's all kinds of vapor in the air. And everything becomes slick,” Jenkerson said. ‘‘I've got 35, 40 firefighters on this bridge climbing around trying to get underneath a structure to put the fire out, so it becomes very hazardous."

And not only are crews affected, so is equipment.

"We break a few more items, absolutely,” Jenkerson said. ‘‘You know, we go through gloves, we go through coats, boots. It's very, very strenuous on all the equipment."