Toledo firefighter Bill Bruss wades through the snow to carry a medical pack into a home for an ill person Tuesday in South Toledo. The unusually cold weather and snow has forced firefighters to contend with more calls from people unable to reach hospitals and made their routes harder.
Toledo fire Capt. Tom Phillips fills out paperwork in the truck after responding to a call from an ill person Tuesday in South Toledo.
A drop in temperatures means a bump in calls for service to the Toledo Fire Department.
In the first six days of the year, firefighters responded to more than 1,000 calls; each 24-hour shift was averaging 170 runs, said fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld.
“Tours with more than 170 runs, that’s a busy day,” the lieutenant said.
Twice this year, fire crews have been “very, very busy” with 200 calls on Jan. 1 and 198 on Monday.
PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo firefighters brave the cold
There’s always a spike for service on the first of the year, Lieutenant Hertzfeld said, but the bump on Monday — a normal average for one tour is 150 calls — is likely attributable to weather-related calls such as an increased numbers of car crashes, exposure to the elements, or chest pains from shoveling snow.
The services were so strained at one point Tuesday afternoon that private ambulances were being dispatched on medical runs to help.
At South Toledo’s Station 9, 900 South Ave., the crew had a mostly uneventful and quiet morning, but did help a man whose hands hurt from being outside the day before, said Capt. Tom Phillips.
The cold and snow presents firefighters with other challenges.
Just before 3 p.m., the Station 9 crew was dispatched to the 300 block of Eastern Avenue for a person who felt ill. Responding to the residence with lights on and sirens blaring, the truck had to stop in the 400 block of Eastern and back up to take a different route because a pickup was parked illegally, blocking most of the road.
Toledo firefighter Bill Bruss passes by drying firefighting clothing hung inside the truck bay at the Station 9 firehouse in South Toledo.
Lieutenant Hertzfeld, who followed the crew to the scene, went back down the street to talk to the driver.
“I’m sorry, my tenant has burst pipes,” the truck owner said.
The lieutenant told the man to move the truck, and that parking there caused a delay in response.
The troops take extra precautions to keep safe, Captain Phillips said.
Many firefighters bring extra clothing to stay warm and dry, but also pack lip balm and Vaseline to protect skin from exposure to the cold. “This is flat-out dangerous,” Captain Phillips said of the temperatures.