MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For firefighters with the St. Paul Fire Department, putting on an 80-pound firefighting suit is just part of the day-to-day job. But on a hot and steamy day like Wednesday, the extra load creates an extra challenge.
“Once you put that turn out gear on, you start sweating immediately,” said Cpt. Alan Gabriele. “So, you know, 10 or 15 minutes, even if you’re just wearing it standing around, it’s soaking wet from sweat.”
Gabriele says there are plenty of added safety precautions in place to keep his team safe.
“If there’s a fire or any sort of incident that’s going to last for a longer duration of time, the incident commanders typically call for extra resources, so they can rotate people through, frequently,” he said. “So that helps a lot.”
Even though the suits and gear weigh a total of 80 pounds, the suit is actually insulated from heat and moisture to keep them cool on the inside.
Staying hydrated is also key for firefighters.
“The chiefs have a cooler in their vehicle that typically has fresh ice water in it, and most of the rigs have coolers with fresh ice water,” Gabriele said.
And when firefighters respond to calls during extreme heat, the incident command chief sets up a rehab area in which the firefighters can cool off and rest.
“Take our coats off, cool down, get rehydrated, they take our vital signs and fully allow us to go back to work,” Gabriele said.
The St. Paul crew even has a shower head device – resembling something at a water park — that mists firefighters as they rest.