Firefighters battle more than flames - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Firefighters battle more than flames

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) -

If you think these days of summer are hot try being a firefighter, battling smoke and flames  in 100-degree temperatures, while wearing an extra 40 pounds of equipment.

According to Jones County Fire Coordinator, Dan McKenna it's a situation volunteer firefighters face everyday.

A firefighters job is dangerous, and when you add temperatures reaching as high as the triple digits this summer the stakes are higher.

"Under these conditions in the extreme heat we have to look out for our firefighters very carefully," said McKenna.

And with good reason, Monday two career firefighter became sick due to the heat while working at the scene of this accident in Moselle. McKenna says it only take a few minutes to feel the heat.

"The work that a firefighter does during the course of a structure fire in twenty minutes is equivalent to that of a factory worker working an eight hour shift," said McKenna.

McKenna says there are two major concerns volunteer and career firefighters face.  

"The biggest thing we are concerned about is heat stroke where the brain actually starts to cook. We monitor them very closely. We look for heat exhaustion," said McKenna.

There are a few precautionary measures the firefighters utilize to stay safe. One is the help of an organization called FOMA.

"Fishers of Men in Action, which is staffed by the Magnolia Baptist Church members. They respond automatically to the scene with water and electrolyte replacements," said McKenna.

McKenna added there are some things they do that are common sense: hydrate, making sure the firefighters pace themselves, and shade.

"We try to get them in an area away from the scene where their blood pressure, pulse, respirations, their body temperature are monitored," said McKenna.

The dangerous combination of the flames and heat, leaves no room for error. McKenna says they also have medical first responder and an ambulance service close by.

Copyright 2012 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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