ST. LOUIS – There is a potential for deadly heat returning to the St. Louis area with projections of a heat index pushing 105 degrees by Thursday.
With the extreme heat, fighting fires pose unique challenges for firefighters.
First responders work in extreme temperatures daily with 50 extra pounds of clothing and equipment, and it is hard to stay cool, but say they are here to protect and serve no matter the weather.
Late Monday just before 11, the St. Louis City Fire Department rushed to a vacant house burning on Vermont Avenue in south St. Louis. The fire spread to occupied homes on both sides. No one was injured.
Firefighters wear heavy protective equipment when working. With the brutal heat and humidity this week, the reality is that it’s more dangerous for firefighters with heat exhaustion.
“In the winter you can layer up, however, in the summertime, there is only so much you can take off at any given time,” Capt. Garon Mosby said. “You are carrying around 50 pounds of gear with your coat, the bag, and the pants.”
“What you are carrying is a significant amount of weight, so your ability to work longer periods is diminished. You have to take care of yourself because if you don’t, your body will let you know it’s done working with you.”
One way firefighters try to avoid a trip to the hospital is by keeping plenty of fluids on hand.
”On the scene, each company has a cooler. It’s upon the company to fill that cooler up with water or Gatorade, or with whatever they carry to stay hydrated,” Mosby said. “We also keep cool towels and ice bucket cooler(s) on the trucks.”
Fire officials also say that when they have working incidents, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army do a very good job bringing the canteen out to support their efforts and to give them relief.