Everyone knows it’s hot in Florida during the summer, but it can get even hotter for first responders fighting flames and saving lives.
Just standing on the concrete on an average day, the pavement can reach temperatures above 150 degrees. That is why first responders need to be extra careful in the summer.
Firefighters say it is about 30 degrees hotter inside their gear, something they never fully get used to.
They say they have to treat themselves like professional athletes, eating clean, staying hydrated, and being ready to go at a moment’s notice. They take extra care to stay cool to be ready for anything.
While the rest of us will spend this summer cooling off, firefighters will go where it’s even hotter, right into the flames.
“It’s like you came out of a swimming pool,” said South Trail Fire Department Captain Casey Moore.
“Not only do you feel the heat, but it’s almost like a radiant body heat, kind of like in the winter trying to get in against a fire. But it’s inside, it’s right up against you,” said Bryce Dearstyne, firefighter and EMT with the South Trail Fire Department.
First responders across the country, and especially in Southwest Florida, are battling more than just fires, they are fighting extreme heat and humidity, which can cause heatstroke and even death.
“There’s an inherent risk with the job that we do. So we accept the risk, but we do what we can to, to limit the extent of the risk,” said Moore.
This time of year, they take extra precautions to stay cool so they can focus on the task and not become part of the problem.
“At a fire scene, we’re going to have one of our ambulances there as rehab. So we also try to limit the time that they’re in a high heat environment and cycle them out and get fresh, fresh people in and let them have a chance to recuperate,” said Todd Dunn, with Charlotte County Fire & EMS.
They say the risk is part of the job.
“Fire departments all over have different risks. Up north, they have winter emergencies, so they deal with things that are different for Florida. We know it’s hot, and it’s just something we accept when we go into this,” said Dearstyne.
With heat exhaustion and dehydration, the firefighters said the key is staying ahead. If you’ree starting to feel sick, you’re already behind.
They also said to listen to your body and know when to hit the shade or rehydrate.