Chesterfield firefighters fight heat and fires

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — First responders have to be on high alert to make sure the heat doesn’t make them become the next emergency.

The gear that firefighters wear to protect themselves already adds about ten degrees to their body temperature. So, when the outside temperatures are as hot as they are this time of year, they have to take extra precautions.

Assistant Chief John Boatwright told 8News that firefighters prepare for the heat by decreasing the amount of time each person spends working a fire. Normally individual firefighters work in 30-minute intervals. But when the weather is as hot as it has been lately in Richmond, they decrease that time by half to 15 minutes.

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They also make sure that the breaks between fighting fires are longer. In order to make up for the loss in labor and to ensure enough firefighters are on scene, responders send extra engines during heatwaves. This way more people may rotate through the workload.

Chesterfield also utilizes their medical response unit – which is basically an oversized ambulance.

“The unit provides space for firefighters to get in, sit down and rest. It is air conditioned throughout,” Boatwright said. “[Firefighters] also carry some light snacks, hydration, water Gatorade and things such as that.”

Boatwright also said he reminds his firefighters to stay hydrated, even on their days off, to ensure that when they are on shift, they are well prepared.

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