Crews battle house fire in negative temps with help of warming tents

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BEAVER FALLS, Pa. - Firefighters dealt with extremely cold temperatures, frozen hydrants and ponds of ice while battling a house fire Tuesday morning in Beaver Falls.
 
When firefighters first responded to the blaze on Fourth Avenue, it was minus 7 degrees outside – something Beaver Falls Fire Chief Mark Stowe said his crew has to deal with.
 
“The moment they come out, they’re just solid ice. So we put them in the warming tent here to keep the firefighters rehabbed,” Stowe said.
 
According to Stowe, the rule of firefighting in sub-zero temperatures is 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off.
 
“It’s just a matter of keeping them rotated to make sure we don’t have any firefighters injured,” Stowe said. “Inside the tent it’s fairly warm. There are heaters in there, and it does warm them up very quickly.”
 
Conway is one of only two fire departments in Beaver County with a warming tent. They respond any time of day and set up the tent whenever needed.
 
“We come out in all types of weather conditions,” Conway Fire Department 2nd. Lt. Brandon Galderisi said. “Obviously, with it being as cold as it is now, it’s very important. These guys are coming out of the building covered in ice, so standing out in the elements is not good for them.”
 
Medics stay inside the tent to check firefighters’ vitals before sending them back out. In addition, portable heaters are also set up outside for those who can’t go inside the tent.
 
“It’s been a busy year for us. Obviously we’ve had a lot of cold weather, especially since the first of the year, so we’ve been called out quite a bit,” Galderisi said.
 
Road crews also responded to the scene of the fire and laid salt several different times. However, several firefighters still fell on the ice. None of them were seriously injured.
 
One person who lived in the home was taken to Beaver Valley Medical Center for smoke inhalation.
 
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.