Winter brings challenges for mid-Missouri firefighters

Captain Tim Young talks about the challenges fighting fires during the winter.

Since winter weather moved into mid-Missouri, there seems to be an uptick in fires in the area.

In the week, fires have seriously damaged or completely destroyed residences in Cole, Callaway and Boone Counties.

Captain Tim Young of the Jefferson City Fire Department says there is usually an outburst of fires in the beginning of the heating season.

This can be attributed to things like heat lamps, space heaters and chimney fires, among other things.

"People may tend to thaw out pipes with a torch instead of using a hair dryer or an electric heat gun. And that a lot of times will cause a fire in a house that will typically spread from basement to attic," Captain Young said.

He also said he usually notes an outburst of fires toward the end of winter.

"Typically here in Missouri we get a little thaw in about January and into February, where we get some warmer weather. Then it may turn cold again around the first of March and it seems like we get into another one of those fire seasons around that same time of the year," Captain Young said.

While responding to fires during the winter, firefighters face obstacles they may not during other seasons.

Most of the problems involve ice.

"As we're hooked to a fire hydrant, a fire truck may overflow its tank, or something like that, and dump water out on the ground and the next thing you know we have a huge ice patch right around that truck. Slip and fall hazards...those types of things can cause a lot of problems," Captain Young said.

To help keep yourself safe, and subsequently keep the firefighters safe, Captain Young recommends you:

Keep space heaters and heat lamps at least 36 inches from combustables

Keep chimneys clean and only burn dry wood (chopped last year) as opposed to "green" wood (chopped this year)

If you're using heat tape, run it along pipes instead of wrapping it aroud pipes. If heat tape gets crossed, it could overheat and ignite.