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Firefighters face many dangers on the job, and cold weather is one of the biggest.

Rapid City Fire Department responded to six fires within the first five days of 2022, and the freezing temperatures paired with the risks of fire created a serious problem for firefighters.
Published: Jan. 9, 2022 at 2:13 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Starting off the new year, a cold streak set in over the Black Hills, along with a string of fires in Rapid City.

Rapid City Fire Department responded to six fires within the first five days of 2022, and the freezing temperatures paired with the risks of fire created a serious problem for firefighters.

“We’re putting our guys in danger that are in these frigid temperatures and when we go to a structure fire, it’s not 15 minutes, it’s usually hours and in this temperatures, we have to make sure we get it all out, when things are frozen it’s hard to make sure is out of there, so it makes everything a lot harder,” said Andrew Rasmussen, a firefighter for Rapid City Fire Department.

And the winter weather can affect how firefighters fight a fire.

“When we pull our hose lines off, obviously they’re full of water and our goal is to keep the water moving, so even when we’re not using it we have a little water trickle out because it will freeze and in the super cold wind chill temps, they freeze in minutes,” said Rasmussen.

Not only can their main source to stop a fire freeze but so can the firefighters themselves.

“We have extra rehab to where guys can warm-up, our face masks that we wear inside, those will freeze instantly if we take them off so the goal is to leave everything on as best as we can, once your gear gets wet, you’re frozen,” said Rasmussen.

But, winters aren’t a scarcity in the Black Hills; firefighters go through training to avoid these obstacles. But Rasmussen says people can do their part too.

“People just have to be smart, a lot of people that are living in mobile home parks and stuff like that, sometimes those are most susceptible because when the wind’s blowing all their pipes freeze underneath and so what they’ll do is start their oven to keep their place warm and that’s asking for trouble when you’re doing that,” said Rasmussen.

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