Firefighters in the Ozarks battle heat exhaustion during summer heat wave

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 1:01 PM CDT
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BRANSON, Mo. (KY3) - As temperatures heat up across the Ozarks again, spending too much time outside can be dangerous. However, battling flames in the heat is just part of the job for firefighters.

Branson Fire Batallion Chief Chris Morgan says one of the most important things firefighters need to do is pre-hydrate before coming to work and continue doing so during their shift.

Battalion Chief Morgan says they also keep any extended scene time on calls into mind. This is where their work cycles come into play—deciding whether to call in more staff because work cycles are typically shorter because of the heat index.

Southern Stone County Fire Inspector Dylan Honea says crews are always trying to stay hydrated to ensure they can do their jobs efficiently.

”But the heat and all of our bunker gear and the fire being hot itself, it’s very hard for us to keep going,” said Honea.

During a fire, firefighter gear can take on the core temperature of your body, increasing that significantly. Many departments even wear cooling bracelets in the summer to cool the blood going through their bodies. Morgan says the gear they wear adds an extra 40-50 pounds.

”Then if you add water to it from either sweat or the fire, that can always add more to it as well,” said Morgan.

He also says fire crews continue monitoring other staff’s symptoms to ensure they’re staying safe on calls. Things to look out for include not sweating anymore. This means they have gone beyond the heat exhaustion point.

”They are sitting down a lot. They just have a stare to them,” Morgan said. “Those are really extreme signs, so we have to catch those early and make sure we don’t get to that point.”

Fire officials say after a fire, the sooner they can get the gear off of crews and fluids in them, the better.

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