Stillwater News Press

Local News

July 11, 2014

BEATING THE HEAT: Firefighters handle the elements

STILLWATER, Okla. — During the warm weather months, fire fighters don’t just battle flames that can reach over 1,000 degrees; they also battle the elements.

Sun, heat and humidity amplify the effects of working in more than 60 pounds of gear near a raging fire.

“Our gear is designed to keep water out,” said Capt. Todd Jones. “It doesn’t breathe.”

Fire crews prepare for extreme conditions before an alarm sounds.

Staying hydrated and being careful between calls is one part of it.

Getting used to the heat by staying active is another.

“You can’t hide from the heat,” said Capt. Greg Connelly. “We can’t just sit around in the air conditioning all day.”

“But you can’t be so worn out from the heat that you can’t handle a call,” said Lt. Bill Bunch.

Rehab is a big part of staying healthy on a fire scene.

They’re monitored and rotated on a regular basis and crew members look out for each other.

Medical personnel check vital signs, make sure they cool off and replace fluids and sometimes administer IV fluids.

 “Our paramedics are trained to recognize the signs of heat stress,” said Fire Fighter Thomas Tharp.

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