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Can YOU take the Heat?

Can YOU take the Heat?

On day number one we all have it beat into our heads that the primary killer of firefighters is heart attacks. But as probies, we feel that we’re invincible, at least for a while. After all, we’re young and tough, years away from having to worry about our health….

Or are we?

As young firefighters, our hearts may not be at risk yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our own problems to worry about. Every firefighter, regardless of age, goes into fires wearing that thick bunker gear. Why do we wear that stuff? For one reason only, it is great at insulating us from heat. In other words, it doesn’t let heat through. That’s great when you’re talking about being protected from 1000 degree flames, but it works both ways. When you work hard, your body generates heat, and if the radiant heat from a towering inferno can’t get INTO your gear, do you think that measly little heat energy that you’re putting off has any chance of getting OUT? Nope, we’re basically cooking ourselves inside our own gear.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly glad that we have those bulky turnouts. However, I know the raised risk for heat problems a little better than most probies, since I went down twice during recruit class with some mild heat exhaustion. Both times were during tough search drills: we go in, advancing a charged 1-3/4" line, searching for victims, and drag them out to safety. Both times I made it out of the building with a victim in tow, both times I nearly fainted shortly afterwards, and both times it was totally preventable. So take some advice from a guy who’s made the boneheaded mistakes of taking ones health too lightly, and keep these 5 tips in mind so that you can keep your cool when someone’s life depends on it.

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