Firefighters battle flames, frigid temps amid deep freeze

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STRATFORD -

Cold weather makes fighting fires harder, so Connecticut's firefighters are battling the elements as well as the flames while below-freezing temperatures linger across the state, officials say.

Stratford Fire Chief Robert McGrath says in the cold, firefighters constantly have to keep the engines running and hoses flowing to prevent their water from freezing. He says the gear is warm and well insulated until it gets wet, which can cause it to freeze and add weight.

On Thursday night, the department responded to a laundromat fire. No one was injured, but crews were at the scene overnight due to the cold and icy conditions.

"Once you get wet...the coats freeze, their hands freeze, their ears freeze," he says. "So it's much more difficult operating in this type of weather."

McGrath says even their breathing masks can become foggy and hard to see through. Overall, when it's cold out, the job tends to take a little longer than usual.

Tim O'Flynn, of the Stratford Fire Department, agrees.

"Everything freezes up," he says. "Water goes everywhere. There's ice everywhere."

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