GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- The summer months pose even more risks to an already dangerous job: firefighting. Fire departments adapt to the temperature spike to make sure safety stays a top priority.
"You use your own imagination as to some of the hardest work you have ever done. Imagine doing that in the summertime in the hot temperatures but put your heaviest winter gear on, and then that may give you just a peek of what these guys have to face," explained Guntersville Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Waldrop.
With that scenario in mind, you can imagine why the summer is always more challenging for firefighters. "Fatigue sets in much earlier. We've got to rehab our guys at a faster pace than what we ordinarily might do in a fall, winter type atmosphere," Waldrop said, "You need more personnel because it's going to take more people rotating in, to tag in to continue the process of the work to keep it going."
When the temperatures soar a leader constantly monitors the crews on the job and rotates the firefighters every few minutes. Waldrop says it takes time to recover when the fire is over. "It's common after battling a fire for that many hours in those extreme temperatures, you feel the after effects for sometimes two, three, four days."
Waldrop said it's a high priority to make sure the crews get the breaks they need.
Fire crews were out in the hot sun for 12 hours on Friday battling a warehouse fire at a Guntersville industrial park. Crews rotated to make sure each person had a break every few minutes. Even in the early morning, the temperature was in the high 80s.