Firefighters battle not only flames, but heat and humidity - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Firefighters battle not only flames, but heat and humidity

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

After two hours, there are still hot spots that need to be extinguished at this Jackson County mobile home fire. That's not the only thing that's hot; so are the firefighters in their full battle gear.

"It's extremely uncomfortable," said volunteer Steven Samples. "The heat, and the weight of the gear fills up with water and sweat. It's extremely heavy and uncomfortable."

Not one firefighter disagrees with that assessment, including Larry Thompson. 

"Oh, you're cooking," Thompson said. "It's almost like being in an oven. It gets real hot and you feel your body sweating inside of the gear and you feel the heat. But it protects you from being injured, and that's the most important thing."

The gear that protects also adds to the discomfort, according to Samples.  

"It not only keeps heat out, but it also keeps your body heat and your sweat on the inside. So any heat you got coming out of your body, it stays inside your gear."

And that has fire officials taking extra action during the summer. 

"“With the heat, we're very worried about possible heat strokes and heat illness, so we have to make sure we keep them hydrated," Field Supervisor Anthony Johnson explained. "We keep coolers full of ice water and Gatorade and Powerade on each truck, just trying to keep them cool."

When these firefighters arrive on the scene of a fire, in this heat and humidity, and they fully gear up and are standing in flames that can be as hot as 1500 degrees, how long can they last before they have to take a break?

"The rule of thumb is about one bottle," Samples said. "One airpack bottle varies anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes before you have to come out, dress down and take your gear off, take the airpack off and drink some water to try and re-hydrate."

As an added precaution in Jackson County, Acadian Ambulance sends a paramedic crew to any fire, just in case any of the firefighters need medical attention.

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    A mobile home in the Lake O Pines subdivision went up in flames early Monday morning. Crews rushed out to the scene around 4:00 a.m. Officials with the Central Jackson County Fire Department say the mobile home was fully engulfed when they arrived. Central Jackson County Fire Chief Michael Belton said they had to take a defensive approach to battling the fire due to the extreme temperatures.More >>
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