How do firefighters battle blazes in triple-digit heat?Posted: Updated:
PHOENIX - A fire at a warehouse near 51st Street and Madison in Phoenix had firefighters sweating even before getting near the flame.
The triple-digit heat presented another obstacle for first responders.
The fire broke out shortly after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. Two employees of the furniture warehouse attempted to extinguish the flames themselves and suffered minor smoke inhalation. They received medical treatment at the scene.
“When the first company arrived on scene they had heavy smoke and fire coming from the building,” Phoenix Fire Deputy Chief Frank Salomon said.
Considering the sheer size of this warehouse, over 160 thousand square feet, a second alarm was triggered, which means a call for more resources.
Sometimes it's the weather, not the fire that can dictate a second alarm in the Valley of the sun.
“Normally when we can handle the fire with a first alarm we will still strike a second alarm just to be able to rotate our firefighters through,” said Salomon.
The fire in the sky forces firefighters to change protocols for fighting fires on hot summer days.
“Normal procedure is to rotate crews out after two to three bottles of tanks or oxygen but during summer months we rotate after one tank,” said Salomon.
Whether they want to or not, those firefighters rotating out head straight for the rehabilitation unit.
“Firefighters are extremely eager to keep working and will keep working until they can't so we make them come over here and check them out,” Phoenix Fire Captain Mark Robbins said.
The rehabilitation units called out for this second alarm warehouse fire stuck around even after the flames were out because the triple-digit heat continued to threaten firefighters decked out in 200 pounds of protective gear.
“Literally any firefighter in there can lose 10 pounds in a span of 30 minutes,” Robbins said.
Replenishing those fluids on a hot day is crucial especially because this is likely not the last call these crews will respond to today.
“Of course we keep water here along with these sports drinks because firefighters can become easily dehydrated and it’s important to replace the potassium and sodium lost and to get them a boost and get their blood sugar up,” Robbins said.
Firefighters in the valley are prepared for this sort of firefight in the heat and none became sick or injured here Tuesday.