Fire Departments Prepare for Winter Weather

BECKLEY, W.Va. (WOAY) – Local fire departments began preparing for winter weather since November, but fire fighters still have to be careful to stay warm.

“If they’re in the building, it’s really warm in there,” said Beckley Fire Department Captain Joe Coughlin. “They’re exerting themselves, so they’re going to sweat, so they’re coming from that one extreme hot environment to the extreme cold environment, so the issue is hypothermia.”

In November, firefighters go through pages of procedures to make sure the fire department is prepared for the winter. Those procedures include inspecting chains for the truck and dressing in layers.

“We usually remind everybody in November to carry extra socks, extra gloves, extra hoods,” said Coughlin. “We have a spare set of gear, so if we’re out on a call and get wet, when we come back they can trade out to a dry set of gear, so the next call they have dry gear.”

Coughlin said a majority of their winter calls are accidents due to people driving too fast on icy roads and house fires caused by heating mishaps.

“People bring out their space heaters and if they’re electric space heaters, they don’t have the proper extension cords and the cords overheat. If we have power outages, people start burning candles in their home. Anytime you have an open flame, it’s not a good idea.”

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Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at