Firefighters battle Texas heat while fighting fires

By  | 

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX)- Firefighters in Texas not only have to battle fire, but they have to combat the heat.

College Station firefighter Natasha Rondao said the hot temperatures can be compounded by carrying 35 pounds of gear.

"It's like carrying around eight weighted vests. Our face gets really sweaty inside your mask, but I think we just kind of get used to it. You don't realize it until after it's over," said Rondao.

"Our fire gear might contribute the most heat, even more so than the actual fire itself sometimes," said CSFD firefigher Jeremy Brumley. With the protective gear, oxygen tanks and tools, there's not a way for heat to escape.

"It gets really hot and even though we want to take off our gloves and our suit and our helmets, we know that we can't because we have to get the job done," said Brumley. College Station firefighters got their first taste of Texas summer responding to an apartment fire May 13. With the help of the Community Emergency Response Team, they have plenty of refreshments and snacks handy when they are out in the heat for long periods of time.

"We really couldn't do it without them. We have a little rehab area set up and we obviously lose a lot of water. We have to replenish electrolytes and they always have that for us," said Brumley.

"When we are standing out there for hours like we did at the apartment fire on Sunday, it does get hot and we do have to take breaks, but as soon as we feel better, we put our helmets and gear back on get back in there," said CSFD firefighter Tanner McKenzie.

"I think just with the adrenaline and stuff, we don't really think about the heat until after we take the gear off and are like 'oh my, this feels good'," said Rondao. Despite the heat, firefighters say their number one goal is to make sure everyone is safe.

"We try to ignore it. We usually focus on each other. We keep each other's morale up. We work as a team and we focus on the task that we are given. Put the heat in the back of our mind and do the job," said Brumley.

"I mean, it's not comfortable at all, but we have to do our jobs and we would't change it for the world," said McKenzie.