Firefighters Battle Blazes, Extreme Heat - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Firefighters Battle Blazes, Extreme Heat

When that siren roars in the summertime, firefighters battle more than just a blaze.

"You just get caught up in what you're doing that you don't realize how hot you're getting until it's too late," Pascagoula Fire Capt. Ben Burgin.

And when that adrenaline wears off, heat exhaustion can set in.

"Their tendency is to think they can just go, go, go and not stop. We have to watch them very closely this time of the year," Burgin said.

So they take extra precautions filling water coolers, resting in the truck's air conditioning, and bringing in backup when needed.

"You can't last as long. In the wintertime, fire fighting is a whole lot easier than it is in the summertime," Burgin said.

Suiting up with 50 pounds of equipment is hard enough. You start to sweat the minute you put it on. But imagine going into a burning building, where temperatures are unbearable.

"You can easily experience a thousand degrees in there. It changes everything," Burgin said.

Getting into the gear is tough, but breathing from the mask was the hardest part. Firefighters say try that when you're surrounded by flames.

"You can't understand what it's like until you get in there. It's just indescribable," Burgin said.

Whether it's hot or not, Burgin says it comes with the territory.

"You love the job and you can't let the temperature dictate what you do. It makes it more difficult, we take more precautions, but at the end of the day, you still do what you're paid for," Burgin said.  

The majority of Pascagoula firefighters on each shift are EMTs, so in case of heat exhaustion, someone is right there provide assistance.

By Keli Rabon

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