Firefighters using extra caution while working in the heat

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Sunday, it was more than 10 degrees hotter outside than it usually is this time of year. As you can imagine, temperatures in the low to mid-90s make the job of a firefighter much more difficult.

In the last few days, local firefighters have battled flames at an apartment complex in Sevierville, and they’ve also responded to a couple of house fire calls in Knox County.

“We really push 24 hours before a shift try to drink lots of water and pre-hydrate, a lot like professional athletes do,” Knoxville Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks said.

Fire crews also pay attention to their air bottles, and use them as a good marker of when they need a cool down.

“We say hey you’ve worn an air bottle, it’s time to come out. And while you’re out changing your air bottle, let’s go ahead, get your gear off of you for a minute, get some fluids into you,” Wilbanks said.

It’s especially important, considering just how much they’ve got on. KFD firefighters wear about 45 pounds of gear as they’re running into flames.

When it gets especially hot, Wilbanks says they’ve even got a rehab bus they can bring to the scene.

That’s because while keeping everyone else safe is priority, it’s also important to make sure their firefighters stay safe, too.

“Its a huge priority for us because we can’t do our job if we’re not safe,” said Wilbanks.

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