Flathead’s record cold weather is hard on firefighters

Posted at 3:00 PM, Mar 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-05 18:15:46-05

KALISPELL – Kalispell broke the record for the coldest day in history at -20 degrees on Monday morning.

The previously-held record was -16 in 1966.

Unfortunately, all of this cold weather is affecting firefighting equipment. Whitefish fire chief Joe Paige tells us that out on emergency calls, water tenders can freeze and equipment can easily break. Sometimes, this means leaving crews with no water to fight the fire.

Paige tells us even with all their firefighting gear on, they sometimes have a hard time staying warm on calls.

“Our gear is designed to keep us safe from the heat, but it also helps us keep insulated in the cold. But as anyone knows, the more stuff you have on the harder it is to move around and then things get slippery,” Paige says.

Paige recommends anyone who ventures outside during these below-freezing temperatures to cover up all exposed skin to prevent frostbite. He also reminds folks to watch out for black ice, as many of the fire department’s calls are for folks who have slipped and fallen with broken bones.