A photo of a Wisconsin fire chief working in -50° Fahrenheit wind chill has brought attention to the heroic efforts of America’s first responders.
The frigid temperatures across America have left many businesses, schools and government buildings closed.
But for first responders like Cameron Fire Chief Mitch Hansen, it’s duty as usual, despite dangerous, bitterly cold weather and equipment that struggles to run.
Hansen has been with the fire department in Cameron, Wisconsin, for 43 years. He told WQOW that fighting a fire in weather this cold is a first.
On Jan. 30, Hansen and a team of firefighters responded to a house fire believed to be caused by a space heater.
The back spray of the fire hoses turned to frost and ice, leaving Hansen with frozen eyelids, facial hair covered in frost, and his helmet and firesuit covered in a layer of ice.
Assistant Chief Bimbo Gifford took the picture of Hansen and posted it on online. The photo quickly began to circulate on social media, captivating the attention of a watching world.
Hansen said he wasn’t thinking much about the cold until the fire was out.
“I don’t know how to explain it so much as the heat of the moment and the adrenaline rush keeps you warm while you’re doing it,” Hansen told WQOW. “And as soon as you start slowing down and getting done, then that’s when the reality and the cold sets in.”
While the home was a total loss, nobody was injured.
“The fire gutted the home but everybody got out safe,” fireman Tony Paulson told CNN. “We saved what items we could for them.
“There was minus 50 wind chills. You’re pretty much froze stiff on the outside but warm on the inside.”
Gifford said the volunteer fire department in Cameron is small but mighty.
“We’re a small team of volunteers but we’re careful and trained,” Gifford told CNN. “When it’s that cold you just can’t move.”
Hansen and his crew are not the only first responders working to help others despite dangerously cold weather.
First responders across the nation are doing the same thing, suiting up for duty this winter no matter what the thermometer may say.
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