HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - Local fire departments are making changes in order to beat the heat. Many companies are canceling training exercises and staffing extra crew members for relief efforts.
"You heat up real fast, real fast," said Firefighter Brandon Bone.
Bone shows us his 65 pounds of equipment, and it's not hard to see or feel why firefighters get so hot, so fast.
"We've got our pants with our boots; it's got some weight to it," he said.
The Hanover County Fire Department is taking a number of safety measures because of the recent heat wave. Firefighters have to be ready to jump into action to run emergency and fire calls, so they're taking it easy in other ways.
"We cancel our training when it gets over 90 degrees; we try to train in the morning, and then the rest of the day, we let the guys stay in the cool air of the firehouse," Chief Willie Jones said.
Other departments are looking to beat the heat too. When Henrico firefighters fought an apartment fire in Glen Allen Wednesday, supervisors sent out nearly the double the regular resources because it was so hot. Both the Henrico and Richmond Fire Departments are canceling training on 95 plus degree days. In Chesterfield, all training this summer is inside, and the fire department is staffing a rehab unit on days it hits 95 degrees. That crew helps firefighters get enough water, and they carry around fans and other cooling equipment. It's a necessary option when you're wearing so much gear.
"Our gear doesn't allow the movement of air to breathe because it has to protect us from steam; when water hits fire, it can cause steam and burn us, so it has to have that thermal barrier, so it can get hot quickly. I've seen guys go in, and they are soaking wet like they've been in the shower in less than 5 minutes," said Jones.