LONGMEADOW — Amid billowing smoke and flames reaching out from a side door to lick at the roof of 1446 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow Firefighters trained their hoses on the Jan. 20 nighttime blaze. Despite the frigid temperatures and slippery conditions, the firefighters worked well into the next morning putting out hotspots.

When the public thinks of firefighters, they may picture the flames and heat as their main obstacles, but Longmeadow Fire Chief John Dearborn said freezing weather can be a danger as well.

“Working in sub-freezing weather is a challenge. Just working in this level of cold takes a great deal more energy. We do have issues with equipment freezing, hose lines freezing and some issues with our air packs. Also, the fire scene becomes covered in ice and can cause slips and falls. Overall, it can be very challenging.”

During the Longmeadow Street fire, firefighters made use of a Rehabilitation Unit.

“This is a specialty vehicle provided by the Mass. Department of Fire Services,” Dearborn explained. “The vehicle is a large truck that firefighters can get into to warm up or cool down. It has equipment to dry gear. They also provide water, and coffee. It is a good place for firefighters to take a break and be ready to get back into action.”

He added, “One of these vehicles is stationed in Springfield at the fire academy. It’s just a call away. There is no cost to the requesting fire department. We have used this unit on several occasions, and it is greatly appreciated.”

Dearborn said fires are more common in the winter due to the use of fireplaces, wood stoves and “heating equipment malfunctions.” These same sources also cause carbon monoxide exposure to increase during the winter.

Freezing weather is not the only condition with which firefighters contend, however. Dearborn said, “Super-hot weather also is physically demanding. Our folks dress for the weather, however, our protective gear does not have many options. It is designed and intended to protect us from high temperatures encountered in fires. So, in hot weather it is not helpful. In cold weather, it provides some protection from the cold, but is just OK.”

Dearborn said remaining in “good physical condition” is key to firefighters withstanding the strenuous situations in which they work. “We actively promote health and wellness and encourage our members to use the gym whenever possible,” he said.

Dearborn said the East Longmeadow, Agawam, North Thompsonville Fire, Shaker Pines Fire departments and Enfield EMS aided in handling the structure fire, which fully engulfed three floors of the large white house and resulted in what is believed to have been a boiler explosion in the basement. No one was in the building and the fire resulted in no injuries. The cause is still under investigation.

“This job can be tough no matter the weather,” Dearborn said. “Longmeadow Fire has a great bunch of members who work very hard. We are also lucky to have great mutual aid partners that are always willing to help during these larger incidents. As we say many hands make light work or make it at least a little more tolerable.”