Midwest City Firefighters Battle Extreme Heat

Wednesday, August 3rd 2011, 5:40 pm
By: News 9

Courtney Clevenger, News 9

MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma -- Firefighters sacrifice a lot to save property and lives. And during this mercury-busting summer, they're battling much more than flames.

As soon as the siren sounds, Midwest City firefighters are ready to go. Before they even get to the scene, they're already working up a sweat.

"It takes a toll on the firefighters almost immediately within a very few minutes," Fire Marshal Jerry Lojka said.

Up to 80 pounds of gear will do that to you in this heat. We wanted to see how hot and dangerous it gets for these guys. We aimed a thermal imaging camera at firefighter Kyle Keener.

Before he puts on his gear, Keener's core body temperature is right at 98 degrees. But that quickly increases to 104 degrees as he stands in the sun.

Then he starts running. Three minutes later, his suit temperature soared to 117 degrees. His body temperature already up to 102.

"If you spike a core temperature, 103, 104, you're sick," Lojka said.

The fire marshal said at that point, water doesn't even help since your body can't metabolize it.

Midwest City fire department tries to prevent that, by rotating crews every few minutes and during extreme weather, having medical staff on stand by.

"We're constantly asking them how are they feeling," Lojka said. "If they start to feel light headed or a little bit nauseated, they'll be pulled out immediately or before that."

But for Keener and his fellow firefighters, it's all worth it.

"I like fighting fires," Keener said. "I like the job."

The governor is trying to give firefighters across the state a break. Today Governor Mary Fallin extended the burn ban to all 77 counties.

That means no outside burning of any kind, including charcoal grilling.

Related Story: Governor Expands Burn Ban To All 77 Oklahoma Counties

Related Story: MWC School Building Sustains Smoke Damage After Fire