How firefighters battle flames in frigid temperatures - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

How firefighters battle flames in frigid temperatures

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KENNEWICK, WA - A family had to go out into the freezing cold early this morning after waking up to a fire in their home that started around 4:30 a.m. The family was able to get out of the house without injuries and are now staying with family members, but how do the firefighters fare with fires in these freezing temperatures?

Reporter Mackenzie Maynard spoke with fire crews today about the added obstacles and challenges that come with firefighting in frigid weather.

She went out to the neighborhood where Kennewick firefighters responded earlier today, and the only difference was that her phone read 27 degrees whereas it was 16 degrees when firefighters got to the fire.

It's an already challenging job, but lately, these freezing temperatures have made it even more difficult for firefighters.

"Being able to pull hose is more difficult when you have a lot of snow to work over, trying to ladder roofs, more danger of slips and falls, so more precautions there to be able to do what we need to do," said Kennewick Fire Battalion Chief Mike Barnett.

Along with battling blazes, they're also battling the bitter cold, so they're left having to take plenty of precautions like leaving the nozzle open so the water won't freeze up.

"We do the same thing on our engines, so when they're parked outside you'll see them running," Barnett said. "Generally if we're going to be outside for an extended period of time, we'll flow water through the pumps because all of our engines have 750 gallons of water on board."

They also staff up, making sure there are plenty of firefighters available to fight the flames, but these freezing degrees tend to slow them down.

"We cycle people in and out, usually it's 10 to 15 minute work program."

This gives each cycle team time to thaw out.

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