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Fire fighters battle fires and the heat - KOAM TV 7

Fire fighters battle fires and the heat

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Two Southeast Kansas fire fighters have been hospitalized this month due to heat related injuries, one was this past Sunday in Pittsburg.

"With the temperature the way it is and with the gear he had on, we had one fire fighter who was overcome with heat exhaustion and Crawford County EMS was on the scene," says Pittsburg Fire Chief Scott Crain.

Fire fighter Tom Vacca has since been treated and released.  He told us that more water is always a good thing when fighting summer fires but that it doesn't always take priority when battling to save lives, something a fellow firefighters can understand.

"I hadn't hydrated like I used to - I was supposed to, you know," says Captain Taylor Cerney...  "Before you know it vision starts to narrow and you get kind of dizzy, people looking at you, and people looking at you, your face turns ghost white."

The chief said that no one is exempt from heat related injuries and that there is no shame in taking a break.

"Drink plenty of fluids, stay in the shade  as much as possible, and when you're starting to feel ill - overcome, take a break, don't continue working," says Chief Crain.

Suited with almost 40 extra pounds, heat is only amplified an obvious threat in current temperature.  Yet some still refuse to be the first on a team to take a break.

"It's a sense of pride, especially in this line of work - to get too hot is, you feel weak," says Cerney.  "But it's not a weakness.  It's something that happens.  You just have to be aware of it."

Though the chief admitted sending more men to each fire might help give firefighters a break there just is not the manpower at this time.

The Pittsburg Fire Department encourages their fire fighters to remove their jackets during breaks every 15 minutes and, of course, drink plenty of water.

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