KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The last few days of the workweek will have some of the hottest temperatures East Tennessee has felt all year. Public Information Officer with Rural Metro Fire, Jeff Bagwell, said these temps take a toll on our local crews, too.
“We may or may not feel the heat from the fire, but it’s not so much that heat as it is the heat that is caused by our own body,” began Bagwell. “Because we’re A. working and B. we are covered up in probably 50 pounds of extra clothing to protect us from the heat and superheated air that’s in those fires.”
Bagwell said it’s all of that coming together that makes these hot, summer days just brutal for our area firefighters.
“Yesterday (Tuesday), we had a firefighter that was overcome with heat, started exhibiting some signs of fatigue that was not normal for him,” Bagwell explained. “We put him in the ambulance, got him in a cooled environment, and were able to give him some fluids.”
The heat from that same condo fire Tuesday also took a toll on one of their Explorers. “Several hours later, started exhibiting some signs of heat exhaustion.”
Bagwell said both are doing fine as of Wednesday.
One of the things they use to keep cool in the field is a mister they can hook onto the truck. “All it is is a cap that we would put on the end of a discharge on a fire truck and they put these little misters on the outside of it so when we put water behind it comes out in a mist,” he said. “Very similar to what you would see in one of those mister fans or at amusement parks.”
As for others who may be out in the heat this week, Bagwell stressed how important it is to start hydrating early. “If you’re coming on shift tomorrow, you should have been hydrating yourself two days ago, not today.”
He also said if people are experiencing a heat-related emergency, the best thing they can do is remove themselves or the impacted person from the heat and into air conditioning. Bagwell described some signs of heat exhaustion. “Extremely tired, maybe a little lethargic, maybe even stumbling or not being able to focus, maybe a little blurred vision in there,” he said.