Fighting fires is a physically demanding activity for career and volunteer firefighters that answer the calls that come in. On January 6th, the cold temperatures that moved into the Tri-Cities area of Southwestern Virginia and Northeast Tennessee made things much more difficult. Firefighters across Washington County, VA and Sullivan County, TN answered these calls nonetheless.
Around 1800hrs, firefighters in Kingsport responded to a reported fire in a residence on C Street in the Highland area of the city. As units arrived, they found a dwelling with heavy smoke and fire visible. The firefighters remained on-scene for several hours attempting to control the fire and protect exposures. News reports state that three occupants escaped the structure without injury. Due to the extreme cold temperatures, much of the firefighters protective gear was coated with sheets of ice. Personnel working in these conditions are susceptible to frost bite and hypothermia. Some of the additional agencies that assisted were the American Red Cross, the Kingsport Life-Saving Crew, the City of Kingsport Public Works, the Kingsport Police Department, and Sullivan County EMS. The Kingsport Fire Department also had their newly renovated Rehab Unit on-scene to assist in keeping the firefighters warm.
Around midnight, Sullivan East and Avoca Fire Departments responded to a reported fire at the 200 block of Grace Street. As units arrived on-scene they found an outbuilding fully involved and spreading to a secondary structure. The crews remained on-scene into the early hours of the morning after getting the fire under control. Reports stated that water had changed to ice in the roadway.
In Washington County, Virginia, fire crews were called out just after midnight for a reported structure fire on Little Sorrel Road in the Mendota community. Goodson Kinderhook Volunteer Fire Department responded and Brumley Gap Fire Department assisted with manpower. Units arrived on-scene with fire and smoke visible from the rear of the structure. The crews made an aggressive attack to bring the fire under control quickly. Crews also remained on-scene into the early hours of Tuesday morning. Washington County Life-Saving Crew and Scott County also provided assistance by responding.
These difficult situations should be used to draw attention to the need for preplanning for the cold conditions that we may be faced with on-scene. While we never know when the next call will come in, it is our responsibility to be sure that we are prepared for the environment we may be called to operate in. There have been several posts online lately that provide tips of how to prepare for the cold weather conditions, and I have listed them below for our readers to access.
Also around 0330hrs, Piney Flatts and Bluff City Fire Departments responded to the 600 block of Mountain View Drive for a reported commercial structure fire. The fire is reported to be in a business called Coldstar International, an industry that produces instant cold packs. Once again, the temperatures presented a number of problems as firefighters battled the fire. Numerous departments responded, and the fire was eventually battled as a defensive fire.
Until next time,
The “Model City” Firefighter