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Cold Weather Has Firefighters Bracing For Call Spike

Updated: Wednesday, November 13 2013, 06:27 AM CST
The cold snap is also putting Austin firefighters on high alert. They say when the temperature drops, the number of calls they get usually spikes.

They say as many people turn up the furnace or heater for the first time, the build up of lint and other debris can cause smoke scares or even actual fires. Overnight Wednesday, with temperatures in the 30s and 40s, AFD’s website showed a number of smoke and odor investigation calls.

For any fires they work tonight or this morning, Austin firefighters say they’re ready with smoke detectors on board all their trucks. On every call, 365 days a year, they’re making sure homes have working alarms. If not they’ll replace the battery, or if they need to, the entire detector.

They say now it’s a must because homes are more fire-prone than ever and fires accelerate much quicker. Today, AFD says have a plan before you need it, and run fire drills.

"In my home personally, when I go up and I hit that smoke alarm, even if I don't tell the kids, they pop up, ‘Smoke alarm!’ and the first thing they ask is ‘is that real or not?’” said Capt. Josh Portie of Austin Fire Department. “As soon as we talk about it , it brings us all up to the end of the hallway, we talk about it, we go over our plan."

Officials say if you ever have a concern, call 911. Besides heaters, AFD says they also see a spike in calls during cold weather due to people improperly discarding smoking materials. Capt. Portie says that includes not just cigarettes but also debris from fireplace or anything else you can throw away.

"It's cold outside right? So we run out there we try to dump it and we don't necessarily put it in the right place or we don't insure it's completely extinguished,” said Capt. Portie. “So we'll see fires reignite from those coals and embers that could sit there and smolder for a day or two later.”

Cold Weather Has Firefighters Bracing For Call Spike

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