The winter in the NYC area has been unusually mild this year, and the recent deep arctic air mass that hit made us all think again of the problems of fighting fires when running water quickly becomes ice.

One of the special rigs used by the FDNY is its Thawing Units, which keep fire hydrants functional.

[Thawing Apparatus]

Because most of the biggest and worst fires occur during the coldest days of winter, hoses and equipment often freeze over. The Thawing Apparatus is a mobile utility van with a portable steam-generating boiler; it’s super-heated steam melts the ice off the hoses, ladders and tower ladders. VIDEOS: Rare footage of FDNY Thawing Unit in Action

The Challenges of Fighting a recent Fire in Super Freezing Conditions in Hoboken, New Jersey, ( across the Hudson from NYC) are here reported:

HOBOKEN FIRE: Blaze on Washington Street in Freezing Conditions Injures First Responders
Posted on February 14, 2016 in hNOW, News

Units from all over the region converged on a Hoboken fire that tore through apartments at 507 Washington Street, shutting down the city’s main thoroughfare. The blaze appears to have originated in an apartment above the Verizon Wireless shop, before spreading to the roof and adjacent buildings.

Residents escaped the blaze, while 14 firefighters sustained injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to exhaustion and hypothermia—with temperatures in the single-digits and windchill well below zero at the time of the fire.

“Thank you to the entire Hoboken Fire Department, along with the Police Department, Office of Emergency Management, Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Environmental Services, Parking Utility, and Community Emergency Response Team for keeping everyone safe under extremely difficult and frigid conditions,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer. “Thank you to the Jersey City Fire Department, North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, and the Teaneck Fire Department for providing mutual aid and to the Stevens Police Department and Hudson County Sheriffs Office for patrolling our city while the Hoboken Police Department was at the fire scene. Thank you also to the Hoboken Daily News at 500 Washington Street for the generous hospitality and for providing a place for our first responders to stay warm.”

A cat, named “Frankie” was also safely recovered from the scene.

Fire at 505/507 Washington St- All residents safe. Frankie the cat was hiding- just found & rescued by firefighters. pic.twitter.com/QQNJ83DRcU

— City of Hoboken (@CityofHoboken) February 14, 2016
The fire, which began around 10 p.m. Saturday, was finally under control at 2 a.m. Sunday.

While all residents were housed immediately last night, long term recovery for those impacted by the fire will be a challenge. Funds are being raised to help the victims, via Ss. Peter & Paul Church.