VIRGINIA

Fairfax Co. Fire & Rescue respond to calls as usual on frigid Tuesday

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Tuesday's arctic blast meant delays and cancellations across the region. But it was business as usual for emergency first responders.

"It's another work day for us," said Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief James Walsh.

By mid-morning, his next stop brought him to INOVA Fairfax hospital, where calls for smoke eventually turned out to be steam from a burst pipe.

"Anywhere within five to six minutes, we would want a fire truck or some type of emergency vehicle on scene," said Walsh.

Moments earlier, his team was getting a refresher on CPR. Behind the scenes or rushing to a scene, they're committed to saving lives.

"Whether it's a house fire, vehicle accident, ALS emergency, they're out in the elements -- 2 o' clock, 3 o'clock in the morning or 4 o'clock in the afternoon," said Walsh.

And while Tuesday's terrible chill was a rarity for the area, the day wasn't too unusual for Fairfax County Fire & Rescue.

"The types of calls aren't that much different than we normally would [get]," said Walsh.

And if they do have to fight fire under frigid conditions, he said, "The water actually coming out of the ground in the fire hydrant is not a major concern for freezing."

But the real concern lies with those less fortunate.

"It's 4,100 blankets and the sole purpose is to give out to the homeless shelters and to anyone we see out," said Fire Station Captain Ralph Pisani.

On average, Fairfax County Fire & Rescue personnel get at least six emergency calls a day. During these winter months, they respond to many structure fires since more people stay indoors to keep warm, leading to more accidents involving space heaters, candles and other heating devices.

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