Firefighters staying cool while working in oppressive heat


credit: WSYR

BALDWINSVILLE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The oppressive heat and humidity make conditions for firefighters all the more challenging, with calls at a higher rate than normal.

“We might call as many as six or seven more departments in this type of weather just to make sure we have the people to get the job done,” said Chief Tom Perkins of the Northwest Fire District.

Chief Perkins had prepared all the district engines with ice and water, ready to rotate firefighters when responding to emergencies. Many of the calls deal with heat exhaustion — something the firefighters themselves can be subjected to. That’s why when on calls, each person is limited by about twenty minutes, or when their air tanks run out.

“We’re already overheated when we get our turnout equipment on. And we probably have an excess of almost 50 to 60 pounds of extra equipment,” Chief Perkins said.

While many firefighters will push to stay outside longer, it’s up to their fellow crew members to look out for signs of distress. Something everyone, not just first responders, should be doing.

“As long as you’re prepared, as long as you’re vigilant on what you’re doing, and aware, the basic thing is being aware of your surroundings,” Chief Perkins said.

There is a difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, both are serious. If you reach the point where you’re no longer sweating that’s a sure sign of heat-stroke and you should call 911.

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