Firefighters taking precautions in high heat while aiding the public trying to do the same

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Engine 51 is just starting their 48-hour shift. They are some of the busiest firefighters in Visalia. (KFSN)

Engine 51 is just starting their 48-hour shift. They are some of the busiest firefighters in Visalia.

They've worked two large structure fires in the past two weeks. In both cases, additional resources were called in because of the extreme heat.

Chief Dustin Hall said firefighters get longer breaks when temperatures soar.

"On a hot day where we're seeing temperatures like we're going to see this week, 106 in excess of. It may be 10 minutes, it may be 12 minutes, depending how hard and how strenuous they work prior to going into rehab."

An Action News reporter went for a short walk in the gear the firefighters wear and it wasn't long before the sweat started pouring down.

"It doesn't breathe at all. So anything you sweat and produce, you only get hotter and hotter inside," said Captain Jeff Macumber, Visalia Fire Department.

All three of the firefighters we spoke with also function as first responders. When they encounter someone suffering from heat illness, they have to first see if that person is alert, and get them out of any excessive clothing.

"Then oxygen, we can start putting fluids back in them, passive cooling measures, ice packs, and whatever we can do. It can be as simple as taking them indoors in the air conditioning," said Macumber.

Around the corner at Kaweah Delta Medical Center, officials said they do see an increase of heat-related illnesses during stretches of triple-digit temperatures.

"If you do have to work, then you need to drink fluids frequently, light colored clothing if you can wear a hat, wear a hat, and take frequent breaks in shaded areas," said Dan Allain, Kaweah Delta Director of Emergency Services.

Shade time is limited for these firefighters, but they're constantly drinking water and Gatorade.

Hydration is something they not only practice, but also preach to the public.

They know everybody is in store for several long, hot days ahead.

The National Weather Service recommends protecting pets, children, and the elderly from the extreme heat this week. And, as always, never leave a child unattended, especially in a car.
Related Topics:
weatherheatheat wavevisaliatulare countyfirefightersVisalia
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