Hartford first responders staying safe in the heat

Hartford firefighters battle the heat
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 5:33 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - First responders are bracing for an increase in heat-related illnesses and calls this week.

Responding to emergency calls in the heat can be challenging for first responders.

Whether it’s 95 degrees or 5 degrees, the men and women of the Hartford Fire Department have to be ready to respond to calls.

Eyewitness News tagged along as crews responded to emergencies today.

A lot of training and preparation goes into making sure they can stay safe as they respond to these calls.

No matter how hot or cold it is outside, the emergency calls keep coming in.

“Deepening on what kind of call we’re getting, especially if it’s a fire that’s heat on heat. So that’s a big challenge, you gotta take care of yourself first,” said Jose Alicea with the Hartford Fire Department.

Alicea has been with the Hartford Fire Department for five years.

As much as he loves his job, it can be particularly tough when temperatures get into the 90s.

“Heat from fire, and you put tools that you need to bring, it gets hot that weight feels like double and the heat feels worse that what it normally would have,” Alicea said.

Depending on the type of call, firefighters can be carrying up to 100 pounds of equipment.

“So the standard amount of gear with the turnout gear, the helmet, the scot pack, it’s about 80 pounds. Not to add on additional tubes like if they’re carrying a water can, all the tubes and equipment they have in their pocket, it can exceed maybe about 100 pounds,” said Chief Rodney Barco with the Hartford Fire Department.

That’s why it’s crucial for crews to stay hydrated.

“It’s not easy going inside a fire when you’re breathing hot air, hot environment and hot fire and plus you’re working so you’re moving,” said Johannes Franceschi, a cadet at the Hartford Fire Department.

Crews prepare well in advance to make sure they’re ready to respond in a split second’s notice.

“On a day like today, we like to prepare the day before, make sure we’re well-rested and hydrated, extremely hydrated,” said Alicea.

To help keep the public hydrated, the fire department’s special services division is going around the city’s parks and bus stops handing out water.

“When you mix high heat or high humidity with physical strenuous activities, you become more prone to being dehydrated,” said Barco.

Despite the job’s challenges, Barco said the men and women of the department are well-trained and ready to respond.

“These guys and girls are well conditioned and they’re prepared for the challenge,” he said.

The chief recommends you do outdoor activities in the early mornings or evenings and to drink two to four cups of water an hour.