WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – When the fire alarm rings, firefighters respond regardless of the conditions. But, increased heat can make for dangerous grounds for the men in red.
“Especially this time of year where we’ve had some temperatures that are nice, then all the sudden we get an extreme day, it can be difficult to acclimate,” Captain Dan Feil of Wichita Fire Department said.
Firefighters take steps to prepare for the dangers before they even clock in. Feil says it takes an average person 7-21 days to properly acclimate to heat, so instead of avoiding the heat, crews train in it. They also begin “pre-hydration” the day before they’re scheduled to work, then continue to push fluids once they are in-house.
Cardiac-related deaths continue to be the number one killer for firefighters in the line of duty.
“It is a job that stresses the body quite a bit,” Feil said.
Station 7 in the north central part of the city is home to the rehab station, a bus that responds to second-alarm fires and conditions with extreme heat. In the bus, crews can cool down and have their vitals monitored, as well as hydrate and replenish lost fluids. It’s staffed with WFD crews who are also paramedics.
“It’s nice, guys feel more comfortable with one of their own treating them, as opposed to going to EMS or the hospital,” Feil said.
In the firefighting world, Denver Fire Department is a role model for how they treat their crews. , Feil said they treat them as professional athletes. Physical therapy is a part of their work routine.
Proper nutrition and good physical fitness are also contributing factors to performing at their best level.