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Huntsville firefighters using safety measures to cope with heat

During these hot temperatures, firefighters struggle to stay safe.

Posted: Jul 9, 2019 7:49 PM
Updated: Jul 9, 2019 7:58 PM

During these hot temperatures, firefighters struggle to stay safe. The Huntsville fire department says with 15 pound jackets that they have to wear during house fires and other equipment that weights over 80 pounds, it's sometimes hard to stay cool during a heat advisory.

District 9 Fire Chief David "Woody" Whitman says he and his team had more water stocked in fire trucks on Tuesday than any other day, because of the heat.

"While we're doing the job, it's very difficult to stay cool but we try to stay hydrated pretty much all day, which helps when we begin to do the job when the alarm goes off," Whitman said.

Firefighters are expected to put on heavy gear in less than a minute. It weighs 80 pounds when dry, but can weigh more than 100 pounds when wet. That's why they work in short spurts during fires, and use ice and cold rags to cool down.

Whitman says taking the gear off is a relief on a hot day.

"They don't breathe well, but the uniforms are made to do that to protect us inside fires and when we're working wreck scenes and rescue scenes to protect us from harm. So, it's kind of a trade-off. It protects us but at the same time, it can be a detriment in heat like this," Whitman said.

When crews are hanging out at the station, they catch a break from the heat.

"We will have the guys dress down around the station into some cooler uniforms that are a little less formal but because of the heat, we do take precaution to try and let the guys be as cool as possible," Whitman said.

Chief Whitman says all of the fire trucks are stocked with extra ice water and Gatorade.

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