Firefighters Battle New Foe in Heat Stroke

By: Eyewitness News Email
By: Eyewitness News Email

Tallahassee, Florida- July 26, 2012

For the more than 240 firefighters working for the City of Tallahassee, heat is not a new foe. But the rising summer temperatures make it even more dangerous as the risks of heat stroke and heat exhaustion increase.

"You can get really wound up in the work so it's really easy for someone to get sick,' says Lt Jennifer King, a paramedic with the Tallahassee Fire Department.

Heat exhaustion is when the body's temperature rises but does not exceed 104 degrees and dehydration kicks in. It can cause headaches and dizziness.

Heat stroke is when the body's cooling system stops working and the body's core temperature rises to a dangerous level of above 104 degrees. It can cause brain damage or even death.

"With it already hot outside and hot in there it's like an oven," says Tallahassee Firefighter Charles Francois.

Suited up, firefighters carry between 45 and 65 pounds of gear. That plus flames, which can reach temperatures of 1000 degrees, it can cause the core temperature of a firefighters' body to increase by as much as five or six degrees.

"Just the extra strain it puts on your body with the extra work your body has to do to go up and down stairs and climb ladders, it puts a lot of extra strain on your body," says King.

The Tallahassee Fire Department takes precautions to keep its firefighters safe. It makes sure its firefighters take plenty of breaks and bottled water and misting fans are on hand. It's a relief some describe simply as...

"Oh it's heaven, it's heaven," says Francois.

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