How firefighters fight fires amid above average temperatures

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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) -- A house catches on fire, or a car accident occurs, and who responds? The Fire Department. Even in the heat of summer.

Firefighters not only have to deal with the hazards of working in a burning structure, but when the heat of summer arrives, they must also deal with the hazards of heat exhaustion.

I spoke with Dakota Shaffer, a firefighter/EMT with the Bridgeport Fire Department, about how the heat affects the firefighter. "It's always about twenty degrees warmer in our gear," Mr. Shaffer told me.

Whether they are responding to a fire, or a car accident, the fire fighters at the Bridgeport Fire Department must don their full gear.

"Our gear has three different layers to it," Mr. Shaffer informed me, "so whenever we're inside of a fire it'll protect us the best it can. So, you're thinking about putting on three different layers of coats to the normal average person. We're only putting on one, but it's three layers."

First the firefighter puts on their protective boots and pants, next their protective jacket which adds the most heat. Next, a hood, made of Keplar, which protects their neck, followed by a fifty-pound oxygen tank. This is followed up by a mask to protect them smoke inhalation.

When asked about whether or not all the protective gear is comfortable, Mr. Shaffer replied that "Most of the time, it's not the most comfortable - it's for protection."

The final touches: a helmet and a pair of gloves. The firefighter will also carry tools with them, each weighing at least ten pounds.

Though the firefighters cannot do anything about the heat their protective gear causes, they do have one method of preparing for it.

"We stay hydrated throughout the day, we make sure that all of our trucks are equipped with a lot of water just in case we do get a hot event like a fire." Mr. Shaffer nodded.

I'm Meteorologist Timothy Albertson keeping you connected!