Pittsburgh fire chief orders tire chains to be installed on all fire trucks

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Pittsburgh fire companies were ordered to put chains on all fire trucks this morning because some side streets in the city remained covered with snow and ice.

Fire Chief Darryl Jones said the use of chains was a precaution. The order went out shortly before 11 a.m.

At the same time, fire companies were advised that response to fire alarms will be by a single engine or truck until further notice. Chief Jones said that is because trucks outfitted with chains have difficulty operating on dry pavement, and most alarms are false.

"They are hard to drive. You lose traction on dry roads," he said. "They're great on snow and ice and but they cause problems on dry roads," including breakage of the chains that can damage a fire truck.

Reports of fires will continue to receive a full response of fire companies, as will alarms once there is confirmation of a fire, Chief Jones said.

According to the National Weather Service, the area received a trace of snow before noon on Monday after 2.6 inches fell on Sunday.

Sonya Toler, spokeswoman for Mayor Bill Peduto, said Public Works trucks also were using chains today. Because of the extreme cold, salt has not been effective in melting ice and snow on some secondary and tertiary streets. With sunshine and a slight warmup today, "the salt right now is just beginning to become effective," she said.

All city streets have been treated at least once and crews were making a second pass where needed, she said. They are also repairing potholes today. The city received a fresh shipment of rock salt this morning.

"We're doing the best we can," Ms. Toler said. "This winter weather just doesn't want to let up."

Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868.

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