Heat exhaustion unusual for firefighters


POSTED: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 3:54pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 9:27pm

Hydration a constant battle

After Tuesday's Lower Valley house fire that put two firefighters in the hospital with heat exhaustion. How the firefighters usually stay hydrated and healthy fighting fires in the summer heat?

It's day three of training for the firefighter hopefuls at the El Paso Fire Department Training Academy.

The summer breeze feels more like a hot blow dryer in the blazing temperatures.
Add strenuous exercises and the trainees are at a high risk for heat exhaustion.

"They've been instructed to always have a gallon of water with them and they drink water throughout the day," said Training Chief Rafael Reyes.

The firefighters battling blazes have it worse.

"Once we put on our protective clothing, it's going to add ten degrees of heat to our body," Reyes said. "We're already starting at 98 degrees. so you add the ten degrees for the protective clothing, you're at 110 approximately. And then if you're working in direct sunlight, you're going to add another ten degrees. So you're starting out at 120 degrees".

That doesn't even include the heat from the fire.

Tuesday two firefighters were taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

"It just happens," Reyes said. "It's just the risk of being a firefighter. Those things happen from time to time".

It's rare, even in the summer heat.
That's because they have strict rules to stay healthy. They're told to start hydrating themselves on their days off. They should avoid caffeinated drinks and stick with water.

They also make sure the firefighters rotate. They only spend about 30 to 40 minutes fighting the fire at a time.

"what we'll do when we have crews working inside, we'll rotate them in through two scott bottles. so they'll use two bottles of air and then we'll send them to rehab"

The two firefighters, who were taken to the hospital yesterday for heat exhaustion, have been released.

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