CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — High temperatures are already dangerous enough for the average person. How much worse could it be for firefighters?
“It would be like putting your thickest winter coat on, a hood on top of that, sweatpants, gloves and then go running a mile. And then trying to work after that. That’s exactly what we do," David Saenz said, battalion chief for Corpus Christi Fire Department.
On Monday, Saenz detailed how CCFD tries to stay safe when the hot weather comes to town.
He said hydration is the most important part.
“Actually hydration starts at night, the night before," said Saenz. "It’s good to start drinking water the night before because when you go to sleep you’re not drinking any water. You wake up you’ve gone six to seven, eight hours without drinking water. So, we ask the guys start hydrating early if they can the night before. And for sure when we get to work, start drinking a bottle of water.”
Crews will know ahead of time when to start preparing. Saenz said the high temperatures present a high risk for heat illnesses to firefighters.
“Usually it happens after you get out of the burning structure," he said. "You got adrenaline going. It certainly can happen inside, but most of the time we find that if we do have an incident it’s because they’ve been in a structure to long, they’ve not hydrated. So what we do we stay ahead of it.”
Saenz said every time there’s a call for a fire they will have a rehab unit and medics along on the call. The rehab unit provides shade and cool water. Medics are there to monitor everyone before and after going into a burning structure.
“We have shade structures like I said or we’ll find a nice shady tree or shade structure, that’s already there," said Saenz. "And we send our guys there. We have cooling chairs that they can sit in they got their arms—there’s actually cool water that sit in the arms. They put their arms in cool water, just to kind of get that heat down.”
Every time a firefighter comes out of a building on fire they must get checked and given the OK by medics before going back in.
Saenz said they will call in additional help as needed if they know a fire will take some time to put out. That way crews can rotate out and not spend too much time in the burning building.