Firefighters endure triple-digit temperatures while battling blazes

Firefighters endure triple-digit temperatures while battling blazes

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on July 16, 2013 at 6:38 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 16 at 11:00 AM

MERIDIAN -- Firefighters across the Treasure Valley are dealing with triple-digit temperatures, which seem even worse inside their heavy turnout gear.

Firefighting is one of the jobs that get much harder as the weather gets hotter. It's not just the heat of the flames they have to deal with, but the heat of the sun, when they're weighted down by turnout gear and tools.

Sometimes they carry as much as 120-pounds of equipment while wearing turnout gear that traps in the heat.

We went through a typical training session with the Meridian Fire Department.

The crew raced up and down several flights of stairs, carrying everything they would need to fight a structure fire.

Even as soon as they entered the building, at 10 a.m., their temperature began to rise.

Through the air masks, you could hear how quickly everyone's breathing got heavier.

Division Chief Tyler Rountree admitted the crew was tired.

We used a thermometer before we started to see just how high a firefighter's core temperature can go up inside the turnout gear.

After just 15-minutes, Rountree's temperature had risen 5-degrees, and he was covered in sweat.

He says in the late afternoon, it's much worse.

"I would say it's about twice as bad, the building will heat up to that outside temp, so right now the building is still cool, it really hasn't had a chance to heat up," said Rountree.

The Meridian Fire Department also took the temperature inside an empty set of turnout gear after it sat in the sun all day.

When it was 95-degrees outside, it was 125-degrees inside the gear.

Meridian Fire Chief Mark Niemeyer says during these summer months, backup crews are often needed.

He says that's why relationships with other agencies are so important.

Just last week, Meridian, along with several other agencies were called out to Caldwell for back up crews because of the heat.

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