Firefighters facing dangerous temperatures while battling fires

Published: Jul. 24, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Firefighters are not just battling fires this summer, they are also battling the heat.

Triple digit temperatures are setting records across the United States, including in Lubbock.

In addition to the West Texas heat, firefighters could experience temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees while battling fires.

“It’s imperative that we prepare ourselves to still be able to provide that fire service to the city,” Lubbock Fire Rescue Public Information’s Officer Derek Delgado said.

LFR crews are required to complete one hour of functional fitness each day, preparing for the physical demands of fighting fires in extreme temperatures.

“Our crews will workout with their gear on or their regulators and mask, so that gets them prepared for those extraneous physical activities while in the heat,” Delgado said.

The heat from the fire and the extreme temperatures outside are not the only things working against these first responders. They carry 75 to 80 pounds of gear on their body, meant to protect them from the dangers of the job, but can be troublesome in the heat.

“All that body heat gets trapped inside their gear,” Delgado said. “Not only are they having hot temperatures inside their gear, but outside their gear.”

Fighting fires is dangerous in hot or cold weather; LFR must have multiple crews on scene.

“It’s imperative of us, especially as a commanding unit, to continuously rotate these crews,” Delgado said.

LFR uses a rehabilitation trailer to give firefighters a break while working.

“Basically what that is, is to have an area where these firefighters can go in an AC climate and also hydrate to recover from the incident,” Delgado said.

LFR has not had any heat related illnesses yet this year. Delgado said he hopes to keep it that way.