Firefighters brave dangerous heat elements on service calls

Heartland firefighters are having to fight fires in the heat of the summer.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:24 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2022 at 3:48 AM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - We are seeing temperatures climb into the upper 90′s and possible triple digits throughout the Heartland recently and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

Like everyone else, first responders have to deal with the elements while outside working. However, firefighters take on the heat elements with added insulated clothing attire and gear when called out to a fire scene.

“Imagine putting on your biggest winter coat that you wear when it’s freezing outside and put that on in this type of temperature and that’s going to get you in the ballpark of what it’s like,” Cape Girardeau firefighter Ethan Essner said. “You gotta keep in mind that we not only have a coat on, we have bunker pants, we wear a hood to protect our ears, we’re wearing a 40 pound SBCA. All that compounds and just makes the temperature that much worse and breaks you down that much quicker.”

We caught up with Cape Girardeau firefighters who were training out on the Mississippi River on Wednesday but also said they are dealing with fire calls in the area as best as they can as they try to stay cool.

“While we’re out on scene, we try to set up rehab stations for our guys. Basically, that just includes lots of cold water, cold rags, try to find shade,” Essner said. “We have tents that we can bring out to scenes. Anything that will give our guys any type of relief.”

Essner said they start preparing by drinking plenty of fluids the day before they come to work so they can start with the service calls plenty hydrated.

“In heat like this, 20 minutes into a fire scene after you’ve gone through one bottle, you’re going to be exhausted and dehydrated,” Essner said. “You’re putting yourself in a situation that could potentially cause you more harm, then also, we can’t serve the community as well as we should be.”

Essner said it’s important they take care of themselves to be able to take care of the citizens in their time of need.

“If we’re not prepared and able to cool ourselves down in a timely manner then we’re not going to provide the citizens that they deserve,” Essner said. “So, we try to take every step that we can to prepare ourselves.”

As they try to stay cool out there, they also tell us there have been citizens needing help after overheating themselves. Firefighters say it’s important to stay hydrated and cool as best as you can.

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