Cold weather slows down public works crews and first responders - FOX Carolina 21

Cold weather slows down public works crews and first responders

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Public works crews say cold is slowing them down (FOX Carolina) Public works crews say cold is slowing them down (FOX Carolina)
(FOX Carolina) -

Many public works crews finish their jobs in wet clothes. It's been the story for Greer employees, and they’ve had call after call in freezing conditions.

"It was in the teens, somewhere around 16 or 17 degrees,” said Jonathan Jordan with the Greer Commission of Public Works. “You’ve got water spraying everywhere and the asphalt looks like a skating rink."

For four years, Jordan has been working on water main breaks so he knows the drill: cover your face and bundle up.

"I have on about three shirts at once, all long sleeves,” Jordan said. “Also a jacket with a fleece liner.

Plus, spares of everything in his truck in case he gets wet, which is pretty often.

His fingers get numb almost immediately and after a while he'll forget it's even cold outside, until he goes to grab something.

"I laid a pair of gloves on the bumper and they were frozen to the bumper,” Jordan said. “I went to grab them and they were stuck."

He said even the mud will freeze to the tools and to his boots, and sometimes in order to keep going, he has to get creative.

"I put some parts in the truck on the dash with the defrost before just to thaw it out," Jordan said.

At one point, his crew was even using a blow torch to heat up a pump.

Jordan said standing water is also an issue, they have to keep it churning so it won't freeze around them.

"It adds a lot of time to the process,” Jordan said. “Little things here and there. You may not think it's a big deal. Valves freeze up or your tools are not working."

It's not just the public works crews feeling the effects. Firefighters said their call volume has gone through the roof.

"We could go to a traffic accident or if we have a car fire, and actually cause more wrecks by putting the fire out," said Greenville Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Jones.

As soon as the water comes out of the hose and hits the ground, it turns to ice. Jones said he also has to monitor his guys to make sure they aren't going into a hypothermic state.

"We have heaters and ways to keep the guys warm and we can put them in different suits and things like that if they get wet," Jones said.

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