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Weber County Firefighters Train For Ice Rescues

OGDEN, Utah – Firefighters with the Weber Fire District and Riverdale Fire Department spent the afternoon brushing up on their ice rescue skills but said they hope they won’t have to use them too often this season.

While the ice at the 21st Street Pond might have looked fairly solid from a distance, firefighters showed just how brittle it can be Tuesday afternoon. Dressed up in gear designed to keep them warm in the water, firefighters took turns walking out on the ice, only to fall right through it about a hundred yards out.

 “The ice is variable and changing every day,” Chris Whetton, a Captain with the Weber Fire District explained. “It’s easy for someone to fall in, so we’ve just been preparing for that, just in case it happens.”

Firefighters from the Weber Fire District and Riverdale Fire Department make up Weber County’s Heavy Rescue Team. Several of them took turns, pulling each other from the ice. While traversing the ice for those training rescues, each of them had to carefully scoot or crawl across, taking care to not fall in themselves.

Weber County firefighters train for ice rescues on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

“Because the ice is so weak, it won’t support our body-weight,” Whetton said. “Every time we get into a situation like this, there’s always the possibility that we get hurt ourselves, or we get stuck.”

Whetton warned that people, looking to get on the ice need to take extra care. Sometimes even upon close examination, the ice may look stronger than it is.

“There’s nothing that says ‘hey, this is good,’ and ‘this is bad,'” Whetton said. “Kids especially have that temptation. I know that they’re tempted to go out and see what they can do. We can see them jumping on it, to see if they go through, which is a bad sign.”

Whetton said if you see someone fall through the ice, you can try throwing them a rope, or a stick if you’re close enough. Otherwise, he said to call 911.

“We never suggest people go out, just because out of the mere fact that they then a lot of times become victims themselves,” Whetton said.

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