Fighting fires in heat adds extra dangers for area first responders

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Battling a fire is dangerous enough work, but responding to a call in hot weather adds a whole other level of danger for firefighters. From the layers of gear that they wear to the heavy equipment they use, heart related injuries are a real threat.

With warm weather here to stick around the Stateline, one doctor weighed in on beating the heat. One Rockford District Chief also explained what it’s like to battle the heat along the flames firsthand.

“It’s definitely hot. The firefighters wear the same structural firefighting gear regardless of it’s 10 below outside or 91 degrees like it is today,” said Rockford Fire Department District Chief Slade Berry.

Rockford Fire responded to four fires on Monday.

“We’ve had multiple crews that have been on three fires today, so we’re just constantly telling them to watch for dehydration. If you feel dizzy, sick let us know,” Chief Berry said.

During the middle of the summer heat, Dr. William Renk from SwedishAmerican says similar to firefighters–everyone should stay hydrated.

“That’s why it’s important in this weather to drink even if you’re not thirsty,” the Dr. Renk said. “Dress appropriately, drink a lot of fluids. If you’re feeling winded, if you’re feeling fatigued, get out of the sun try to cool off.”

Signs you should look for include being lightheaded and excessive sweating.

“It’s your fluids in versus your fluids out. So, how much you drink versus how much you sweating. In that sweat there’s sodium, so how much salt are you losing? And then your ability to cool off the body,” the doctor said.

Other signs to watch for are muscle cramps and fatigue. Dr. Renk suggests getting out of the sun during its peak.

“If you’re out all day in the sun and the heat index is 90. Well, in the sun it’s 105.” he said.

“Running through a sprinkler or a fountain, taking a dip in a creek just to be able to cool off your body,” Dr. Renk said.

The doctor reiterated the most important thing to remember is staying hydrated.

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