PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) — Pittsburgh is in the middle of a stifling heat wave and everyone is doing their best to keep cool and not have health issues; but imagine fighting a fire in this heat. Firefighters have to wear thick uniforms and special apparatuses, and carry heavy equipment through raging fires — and that’s on a good day.
KDKA-AM’s John Shumway talks to morning news anchor Bill Rehkopf, who is also a firefighter and EMT, about how firefighters keep cool in fires – especially in extremely hot weather.
Rehkopf says that on an average day, firefighters carry up to 40 to 50 pounds of equipment, which can be difficult in extreme temperatures. He said that some towns have emergency support units, which come in handy to firefighters during days like this. The support units set up tents at mass incidents (like fires), where freezers of popsicles and water are provided to firefighters. Large liquid cooled air blowers are set up under the tents, to make them feel air-conditioned.
John also talks with KDKA-AM reporter Adam Kirk, who is on the scene of a huge warehouse fire.
Kirk says that the firefighters were given water bottles and food at the scene. Chairs were also set up so they could sit while trying to cool down. He said the firefighters were being rotated very quickly, and were getting vital signs checked. Some needed IVs to keep from becoming dehydrated.
Rising Temperatures & Humidity Prompt Health Alert (Allegheny County Health Department)
Allegheny County Cooling Centers Extend Hours
Current Weather Conditions
Tips for Staying Cool & Safe (Allegheny County Department of Human Services)
National Weather Service