Naples firefighters share how they combat extreme Florida heat

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

When you combine the flames from a giant fire, the required heavy gear, and the extreme Florida heat, firefighters are at risk.

Southwest Florida is experiencing yet another day under a heat advisory.

“I’ve been on scenes where, you know, I get done and actually poured water out of my booth because I sweat so much from the call,” said Naples Fire Chief Phillip Pennington.

Pennington said his team deals with the heat by getting into what he called a “rehab” situation. That is when firefighters sit down after a call, rehydrate and let their bodies cool off.

“At the end of the day, it’s just getting enough people there to take care of whatever the emergency is and then make sure we have people that we can swap in and out so that people have time to rehab and get ready to go again,” Pennington said.

Pennington said firefighters must wear the same gear year-round, but most of them are from Florida, so they’re used to the heat.

Pennington was asked how much heat a firefighter can withstand.

“I think it’s on an individual basis. Our gear is designed to protect us from the heat, or if we’re in a fire, it’s really designed to protect us from the ambient heat,” Pennington said. “The problem is, when you put that bunker gear on, you’re actually creating an environment within yourself because it’s totally encapsulated, you’re not — nothing is getting out, so you’re constantly building up heat within, inside yourself.”

The good news is that despite three straight days of heat advisories in effect in Southwest Florida, emergency calls for heat-related issues have not gone up, according to Pennington.

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