Local Police, Fire And Mail Officials Brave The Cold

arao@post-journal.com

With subzero temperatures and a “polar vortex” overwhelming the Northeast, local police, fire and mail officials are reacting accordingly to both brave the elements and fulfill their responsibilities.

Captain Robert F. Samuelson, division commander of the Jamestown Police Department, stressed the importance of cold weather protection by describing weather-appropriate clothing – coats, hats and gloves – and the proper rotation of personnel as necessities.

“If we did have a situation where we had to put somebody at a traffic post, we would have to rotate them quickly, rather than have them out there for hours,” Samuelson said. “With temperatures like this and the wind chill at what it is, you can’t have any exposed skin for longer than a minute or else you’re going to end up getting frostbite.”

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace was similarly emphatic about appropriate clothing, indicating that he’s even “bent the rules a bit” when it comes to the department’s strict guidelines on uniforms.

“We’re very strict about uniformity, but we’re making exceptions for (the deputies) to wear face masks and other kinds of clothing that they may need for long durations,” Gerace said. “We’re just encouraging our people to be conscious of the exposure to the elements … and if they’re outside for any extended period of time due to calls we’re going to try to get them relieved when possible.”

Fire officials followed suit.

“If we do get anything where the guys are going to be exposed to the weather for a long period of time, we’re going to try to rotate as many guys through as possible,” said Samuel Salemme, Jamestown Fire Department battalion chief. “We’re going to try to minimize their exposure the best we can.”

Salemme added that the department’s day-to-day operations would not be affected by the colder-than-usual weather conditions.

First responders, of course, are not the only ones who have to venture outside.

According to Teresa Brady, postmaster of the Jamestown Post Office, her mail carriers-who deploy across the city- are encouraged to dress in layers and keep dry.

Brady added that the recent weather-related road closures resulted in no mail coming from the processing facility in Buffalo on Tuesday. Carriers therefore had a lighter than usual load and spent less time outside.

The National Weather Service projects a gradual warm-up of Jamestown throughout the week, with a high of 48 degrees Saturday.

“It’s Western New York weather,” Gerace said. “I think it’s more out of the ordinary the unseasonably warm winters that we’ve had in years past. As a young man growing up, I recall winter being more like this for long periods of time.”