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Work Load, Temps Brutal For Emergency Crews After Snowstorm

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In northwest Oklahoma City Wednesday firefighters battled a huge house fire and the elements. The freezing temperatures wrecked havoc on the hoses. In northwest Oklahoma City Wednesday firefighters battled a huge house fire and the elements. The freezing temperatures wrecked havoc on the hoses.
Oklahoma City firefighters say they typically respond to 240 calls per day. But in the last few days the number of calls has increased to 340. Oklahoma City firefighters say they typically respond to 240 calls per day. But in the last few days the number of calls has increased to 340.

Dana Hertneky, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Most Oklahomans can avoid the recent brutally cold temperatures by staying inside. But for the state's first responders that's not the case. In fact this type of weather means more work.

And not only are the frigid temperatures brutal to work in, it's effecting how fast emergency crews can get to you if they come at all.

In northwest Oklahoma City Wednesday firefighters battled a huge house fire and the elements. The freezing temperatures wrecked havoc on the hoses.

"One of the lines froze and broke," said Acting District Chief Chris Hoppes.

Even getting to the call was a problem.

"(We had a) slow response in getting here because of the weather and the traffic," said Hoppes.

There are also more calls for emergency crews to respond to. After being cooped up for 24 hours more people were out on the roads even when they shouldn't be.

Oklahoma City firefighters say they typically respond to 240 calls per day. But in the last few days the number of calls has increased to 340. That means responders have had to prioritize which calls they go on.

"Obviously any medical emergency things of that nature were definitely going to respond," said Al Cothran, Battalion Chief for the Oklahoma Fire Department. "On some of the lower level calls they're going to have to take a back seat to the other calls."

Battalion Chief Cothran said dispatchers get calls of a sprained ankle, or even a nose bleed. Typically they do respond. But in conditions like these not only would they take time but it could mean trouble in a real emergency.

"That puts us out for sometimes 30 to 45 minutes and during that time," said Hoppes. "Sometimes our valves will freeze up, sometimes our pumps will freeze up, the tank."

Firefighters say they are also seeing more house fires because of the weather, things like people using space heaters, or not disposing of fireplace ashes property.

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