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Syracuse fire captain urges safety amid storm, but ready for impact

Snow falls down on the buildings of a city block where cars are driving down a snowy road.
Chris Bolt
Snow blankets the grounds and covers vehicles parked outside Syracuse City Hall in this photo.

As the wind picks up and a wintry mix blows through, the Syracuse Fire Department is preparing for the effects of harsh weather hitting the region.

A winter weather advisory is in effect for the Syracuse area through Thursday morning. Syracuse Fire Captain Matt Craner said the department is braced for the likelihood of slight increase in emergencies.

"Anytime we deal with winter weather advisories, snow, sleet and freezing rain; we sort of expect an uptick in vehicle traffic accidents," said Craner, the department's public information officer. "You know, people do their best to avoid them, but sometimes it's unavoidable on the roads and they get really messy."

Craner said people who can avoid driving should stay off the roads, but anyone who must travel should reduce their speed and pay closer attention to the other vehicles around them. He also warned people who use space heaters to keep clothing and other flammable materials at least three feet away, and to avoid using an extension cord. But he said people should call 911 in an emergency, and noted that crews heading out to calls are ready for the projected cold and slick conditions.

“Every engine and truck has a couple of little, you know, coffee cans of salt that we can put down and we get into emergency scenes if things are slippery,” Craner said. “If we're going to be on a scene in cold weather for an extended period, we're making sure to circulate the water in our pumps.”

He said crew members often bring additional clothes or gear to change into a warm, dry set. But during a recent fire, he said the department took an extra step for a break from the low temperatures.

“We were able to bring in a bus that we have to kind of create a warming station that we could rotate companies through as they were working there, so nobody got too cold,” he said.

According to the National Weather Service, up to two inches of snow and sleet are expected to fall during the late Wednesday hours before transitioning to rain just before midnight Thursday. The agency warned two tenths of an inch of ice could accumulate.