(WBIR-Knoxville) East Tennessee is expected to experience some of its coldest temperatures in almost two decades within the next week.
Not everyone has the luxury of escaping the cold. The Knoxville Fire Department (KFD) is preparing for a couple of brutally cold days on the job.
"Typically they're not out for long periods of time, but when they do get out for an extended period of time, we've got some resources available to them to help keep them warm," KFD Captain Mark Wilbanks said.
To escape the cold, KFD firefighters use an old bus, donated from Knoxville Area Transit. It is now used as a rehab unit housed at Station 10 in South Knoxville.
According to Captain Wilbanks, they have had this particular bus for less than two years.
The bus stores extra supplies and when needed, firefighters can rotate in and out.
Crews also use it during the summer months when there is extreme heat, as well as for other events.
"This weekend we're expecting some very cold temperatures. We're really having to think about things like how we're going to keep our firefighters warm while they're out doing the job that they do," Captain Wilbanks said.
Despite their thick gear, it can become dangerous to wear when it gets wet in the cold.
"As it starts to get wet, you start to cool down a little. And the purpose of the gear is to keep you cool. That's part of it. So it's almost a 'Catch-22' in the very cold, wet weather outside," Captain Wilbanks said.
The water can also cause problems for the roads. When needed, they call salt trucks to treat the area.
"When you get down to the teens at night, the water freezes on the roadways when we're using it. It freezes in the areas that we're fighting the fires," said Wilbanks. "That becomes slip and trip hazards for us so it makes for a dangerous situation for us."
The last time KFD crews used the rehab unit to escape the cold was about 1.5 years ago. However, that could change within the next week.