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Firefighters face extra challenges in extremely cold temperatures

Posted at 12:33 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-02 12:33:19-05

CINCINNATI -- The situation went from bad to worse Tuesday morning when a Northside homeowner using a heat gun to thaw frozen pipes caught the basement's insulation on fire.

The fire quickly spread all the way to the attic of the Donaldson Place home, displacing two adults and two children, but thankfully nobody was injured. 

The Cincinnati Fire Department had to respond to two additional fires during a bitterly cold overnight period that shattered a 90-year-old record for low temperatures in Cincinnati.

Firefighter union president Matt Alter said they face additional challenges in the cold.

"Everything takes longer when it's colder," Alter said. "Everything takes longer, but we still have to do our job."

Alter said the fire department calls in additional personnel on bitterly cold days, and they carry cold-weather bags stocked with additional clothing.

"On the scene, you just have to be much more methodical about what you do (and) make sure you know first and foremost we don't get ourselves hurt, and then we can protect property for the citizens," Alter said.

Alter suggests that people with frozen pipes should call a professional to resolve the issue. He added that the best practice to keep those pipes unfrozen in the first place is to let water drip from the faucet and to also keep the cabinets open under the sink.

Firefighters were also out Tuesday morning battling flames on Blair Avenue in Avondale where a family of five and their dogs are safe after their home caught fire.