Fresno firefighters seeing challenges while battling fires in extreme temperatures

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Fire Department starts with an announcement on the weather every morning.

It's especially important on days like Saturday, where temperatures are over 100 degrees.

"For our guys it is all about staying hydrated, staying rested when possible because they know at any moment they can run out the door," says Fresno Fire PIO Shane Brown.

When they do respond to calls in triple-digit temperatures, Brown says two additional engines with six extra personnel will respond.

This is part of their "Heat Stress Protocol," which is designed to keep crews safe in extreme temperatures.

A firefighter recovery area is also set up so crews can cool off.

"Which is vital to them being able to re-engage, continue to work and still finish out their shift strong," Brown said.

The Fresno Fire Department has experienced record-breaking fire calls over the last couple of months.

Brown says August is following the same trend. Friday was another hot and busy day for crews.

They battled several fires along highways, including one on Jensen and 99.

Firefighters reported heat was radiating off the ground.

Those hot conditions are only intensified when a firefighter is on a roof.

Saturday afternoon, Fire Station 9's roof was 50 degrees hotter and that's without any fire.

"It is 152 degrees, so those are the kinds of surfaces we are working on and trying to work with," Brown said.

Then there's their fire gear.

"It doesn't breath well, it absorbs and retains all the heat that is coming off of his body," Brown said.

Brown says they wear several layers that protects them, but it's not breathable and can weigh a lot.

"The second you put it on, you are instantly sweating," he said. "It starts to zap your energy and it is extremely heavy."

Volunteers also assist crews through their CERT or Community Emergency Response Teams.

They make sure firefighters are stocked up with water and also help them replenish during fires.
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