On days like this, firefighters have to battle the fire and the heat

Firefighters were training today at the Fire Training Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
Firefighters were training today at the Fire Training Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.(David Whisenant-WBTV)
Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 3:14 PM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The extreme heat we’re dealing with today is a great risk for emergency responders. When firefighters get a call like the one on Tuesday afternoon to the massive fire in a China Grove junkyard, they fight not only the fire, but the heat of the day, and they do all that wearing heavy gear designed to protect them.

The Fire Training Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is a place where hundreds of firefighters from all over the state come to train, and along with learning how to fight fires and save lives, they learn the best way to take care of themselves when the heat is on.

For firefighters battling the massive blaze at a junkyard on Tuesday, it was like they were working in Hell’s parking lot.

“Yeah, I was on that fire yesterday,” said Salisbury Fire Battalion Chief Nick Martin. “It was excessively hot, it was probably the hottest time of the day and the strenuous nature of having to hump hose lines over cars through the jungle of the junkyard was crazy.”

The heat of the day, the heat of the fire, and the gear they wear and carry takes its toll. Today firefighters were training, and even as they improved their skills, supervisors made sure they took care of themselves.

“One of the things we have to deal with is we have when what call is going to come in and so at all moments in the day we have to practice what we call pre-incident hydration, drinking water, even though you think you may not need because it’s not like you can wait for the call to come in and say oh let me go ahead and drink a gallon of water. You’ve got to have it in your system, it’s got to be processed and you’ve got to be hydrated whether that’s in the middle of the day or the middle of the night because you just don’t know what’s going to happen when,” Martin added.

Carrying equipment, climbing ladders, all in clothing that is designed to be heavy to protect them from the fire.

“Because the turnout gear that we wear and the airpacks, it’s very cumbersome and the position it puts us into is I’m going to take my airpack off or I’m going to take my coat off because yeah, I need that for safety for the fire, but also, if I keep wearing it, am I going to pass out,” said Martin.

The firefighters training today made sure they stayed hydrated, and in between training exercises, got out of their gear, out of the sun, and into the shade for a break.

“In the weather, and the way it is this time of the year, it’s a very physically demanding job obviously all the time,” Martin said. “The gear that we wear if not very forgiving in terms of letting heat out so it adds to it very much.”

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