Heat of Fire And Sun Dangerous For Firefighters - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

7/19/04

Heat of Fire And Sun Dangerous For Firefighters

Fighting fires in the summertime temperatures can be deadly for firefighters if they don't know their limitations. For several hours Sunday afternoon dozens of Biloxi firefighters fought to get an apartment fire under control. Before that fire, Kerry Borden hadn't fought a blaze in years, but when the call went out for more firefighters the battalion chief says he rushed to the scene to suit up.

"You already have on a ton of gear," said Borden. "Your body weight goes up 50 to 70 pounds depending on how much gear you have on. The full gear and air pack are up around 65 to 70 pounds and then you have the humidity working into it so they're losing body fluid real fast."

Firefighters are trained to take frequent breaks from long, hot blazes using water and air packs to cool down and stay hydrated. Still that's not always enough to keep some people from succumbing to the heat from both the fire and the sun.

Capt. John Jennings trains firefighters to withstand intensive heat. "Because it's very dangerous at times. We had a situation yesterday with the heat involved. There are elements that come into play as far as taking care of yourself. You go through so many different air bottles and there is stress put on your body that you have to be aware of and you have to know your own limitations."

Biloxi's newest firefighter recruits know that what happened on Sunday is a situation they'll likely one day face.. and they want to be prepared.

Kyle McNeal said there re "a lot of things that we'll have to learn and we just need to sit here and pay very close attention. It might save our lives and everyone else's lives."

Captain John Jennings says often when the public feels that firefighters are not acting quickly enough to put out a fire. That's because firefighters are accessing the situation to determine the best way to keep people from getting hurt.

by Danielle Thomas

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