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Working in the cold Workers say it’s preparation and grit

A mechanic works outdoors Friday attempting to get a car started in Jamestown. John M. Steiner / The Sun

People who need to work outside this week say they prepare but that is also takes a little grit to take it all in stride.

“Its cold but we’re used to it,” said Dale Fisher, the lead residential driver with the Jamestown Sanitation Department. “It’s a job and we have to do it, regardless of how cold it is or how hot it is.”

The prolonged extreme cold for this week does require a little more care of the hydraulic equipment, he said. The Sanitation Department issues thermal clothing and winter gloves along with the reflective gear to make them visible to traffic, he said.

“We adapt to climate,” Fisher said. “We’ve lived here long enough to know what it is.”

The trucks leave the bailer at 7:30 a.m. and work up to the coffee break at 9:30 a.m., he said. The key to keeping warm is to keep moving and the workers can get into the truck at any time they need to warm up, he said.

“If it’s cold then we take a little longer break, but if they just want to keep going then we keep going,” Fisher said. “It’s really hard to say; everyone knows the job and knows what to do and they don’t complain — but we do appreciate the warm breaks.”

Roger Mayhew, Sanitation Department foreman, said the department is also shorthanded and that has made it more difficult for the regular workers this year, he said.

Some workers left with the understanding that layoffs were coming and so they were replaced by temporary workers who are still in training, he said.

Pat Zimmerman, a carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Jamestown, said he stores the mail for his route at neighborhood postal boxes in the morning and walks the entire route from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. After 12 years he said he just got used to working in extreme weather.

“No brains, no headaches,” Zimmerman said. “Today, I’m sweating. Walking south you can feel the difference.”

Zimmerman said he does use work-issued hand warmers along with his own thermal gear. He said he also has two locations along the route to warm up if necessary.

By preparing for the weather and making the routine as efficient as possible, the job is not so difficult in any weather, he said. Spring will be here before long, he said.

“Winter is half over,” Zimmerman said.

Cpt. Bryan Niewind, commander of the southeast region of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, said the gas tanks are kept full on the patrol vehicles and the officers bring food and water along just in case it’s needed on bad weather days. The officers drive as many shift miles as possible in cold weather to try and be nearby for any stranded motorists.

“We want to give help as quick as we can because it will get cold fast if you’re sitting in a car that is not running,” Niewind said.

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“We adapt to climate, We’ve lived here long enough to know what it is.

the DALE FISHER residential , driver, Jamestown Sanitation Department