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Extreme cold forces Roanoke Fire-EMS into "crisis mode"

Published On: Jan 07 2014 06:02:53 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 07 2014 07:13:02 PM EST

Some people had to work outside in the cold today including first responders.

Chunks of moving ice cut through the surface of the Roanoke River in Salem- reminiscent of icebergs in the Arctic.

The steady stream - a powerful example of what meteorologists have been saying for days- this is recording breaking cold.

Cold, that first responders don't have a choice and must be out in.

Just before lunch- as temperatures hovered in the teens, Roanoke City Police directed traffic on busy Elm Avenue after a signal went out.

"You know, it's not as easy as it is when it's warm outside, we actually had to take an engine out of service because all the hose was frozen to the ground," says Chief David Hoback, Roanoke Fire-EMS.

For Roanoke Fire-EMS, the frigid cold made early morning firefighting difficult.

"When we're using water it becomes an instance hazard inside a house, outside a house, going down stairs, it freezes- this type of temperature almost instantaneously so they have to take extra precautions and they have to go slower because we don't want any types of slips and falls or injuries," explains Hoback.

Hours after crews battled a house fire, hoses were still thawing and heated fans still running to help restore things back to normal.