COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. — Fire crews battling flames at Fifth Third Ballpark Friday had more than just the smoke and flames working against them. Temperatures were hovering just over 10 degrees as fire crews tried to knock the flames down and save the park.
“Our gear freezes when we get wet. It’s hard for us to move around. More importantly our breathing apparatus freezes,” said City of Grand Rapids Battalion Chief Bart Perry.
With temperatures well below freezing, crews said that keeping water flowing is a constant challenge.
“Our main extinguishing agent doesn’t flow very well in this type of weather, as everybody knows, so that in and of itself is a challenge,” Perry said.
Fire fighters themselves were also trying to keep ice from forming on their protective gear.
“If they’ve gotten wet, they will go until they can’t move pretty much and then we try to go get them thawed out. We’ve actually been going back to the station back-up here and having them put dry gear on,” said Plainfield Township Fire Chief Dave Peterson.
Fire officials said that because of the frigid temperature, crews couldn’t fight the flames for long periods of time.
“It’s kind of organized chaos. We try to give them a break every 20 minutes to a half an hour depending on where they have been operating,” said Peterson.
The area around the ballpark is covered in ice after the water used to fight the fire froze.
“Slip and falls are a huge issue with our rubber boots and our decreased mobility. A lot of firefighters are injured after the fact because of all of the water that freezes,” said Perry.
Crews used warming buses during breaks, including ones donated from the American Red Cross. Fire officials said that no firefighters were injured during the fire.