SHAWNEE, Kan. – Shawnee firefighter Ryan Vining knows what to expect when it comes to winter temperatures, but that’s not always the case when he and his shift are sent out on a call.
“You can't really control Mother Nature, so you just got to take your precautions with it," he said. "I mean, you just never know what you're going to get here. You've just got to be ready for anything and everything no matter what time of day it is."
Although the ice and snow can give some folks an out from going to work, that’s not an option for firefighters.
“Working in the cold is not too bad," firefighter Aaron Taylor said. "It's just part of the job. Tou still have to go out. There's no snow days or anything, and we've still got to be out here."
A post-Christmas training session was cut short after reports of an elderly man taking a fall down some apartment stairs came in -- a call that is fairly common this time of year.
“Knowing that apartment complex when they said the stairwell, we said, 'Oh crap,' because we know those stairwells are outside, so that could have very easily been associated with the weather,” Shawnee firefighter Andy Fenstermann said, “which is not only the possible cause, but it could be an exacerbation of the issue when it's whatever it is -- 4 or 5 degrees outside.”
“People try to overcompensate for the cold a little too much, so they'll plug in a bunch of space heaters on power strips or maybe just try to run the furnace up too high, and if you've got an old furnace, it might catch on fire,” Taylor said.
Luckily that didn't happen Wednesday, but it’s something first-responders are still prepared to deal with.
“You just never know what you're going to get," Vining said. "You always expect the worst and hope for the best when you get there. And we just take care of the situation when we get there."
First-responders said this is the time to make sure your smoke detectors are working properly and ensure there are no heat hazards around your home. Anyone with questions or concerns should call their local fire department.