WACO, Texas – Central Texas has been under a heat advisory for several days, and this creates many issues even when you don’t have the added problem of a fire – but the Waco Fire Department says they have several steps they take to ensure their first responders stay as safe as possible during extreme conditions.
A fire in Hillsboro on Sunday damaged two homes and destroyed a pickup truck. The fire injured one person, who was in one of the homes, and it also led to a Hillsboro police officer to suffer from heat exhaustion. The extreme Central Texas heat played a large factor in the officer’s injury.
So what do first responders do to ensure this doesn’t happen often?
“You have to be physically fit to do this job year round and to battle fires in extreme conditions,” says Waco Fire Marshal Lt. Keith Guillory.
There are several steps firefighters take to make sure they stay as safe as possible when battling a fire under extreme conditions.
“Hydration starts before a fire, so it starts when you wake up in the morning. Make sure your body is hydrated, and make sure you’re getting fluids in your system. Another good one is getting enough sleep. We try to get six to eight hours of sleep a night, but in between calls that can be very hard to do,” says Guillory.
The Fire Corp is also activated when the heat is this extreme. When they arrive on scene they will monitor first responders’ vitals, provide cool vests and bring plenty of water cans to keep everyone hydrated.
On top of all this, firefighters also take shifts.
“We do have a rotation where we rotate our fire personnel on the regular. As far as going in, they do their job. But we have a rotation set up to make sure the firefighters stay fresh,” says Guillory.