Davenport Fire Department prepares for extreme temperatures

DAVENPORT, IOWA  -- While you're trying to keep cool at home, first responders are making sure they're ready to help people in with summer heat. They don't have the option to stay indoors and fire fighters don't have an option to dress for the weather.

"Our firefighter gear is basically like putting on a snow mobile suit in the summer," Assistant Chief of Operations Robb MacDogall said.  "On top of that, you strap on a 30 pound air pack and then any tools that you're grabbing, then you go and do the most intense work you can possibly imagine."

The department had to treat three of their fire fighters for heat related injuries after two separate fires over the weekend.

They were minor injuries and all responders are back to duty. Fire fighters can suffer from heat related injuries like dehydration and over exertion.

"You are basically baking inside a building," MacDougall said. The department says they do their best to prepare for high temperatures, but there is only so much they can do.

"It starts with the gear that we wear for protection," MacDougall said. "Doing any activity, you're instantly sweating and that clock is ticking for how long you can operate in those conditions."

They say they encourage crews to drink water before, during and after their shift. They always will rotate crews and work in smaller increments if there is a structure fire.

Not only does their protective uniform work against them because it is heavy layers, it also has vapor barriers. Vapor barriers are in each suit to protect the fire fighters from steam burns, but they also trap in moisture. With moisture trapped inside, the body can't cool down with sweat.

The men and women of the Davenport Fire Department are also paramedics, so they are able to monitor their own crews and better protect against heat related injuries.

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