August 2, 2007 - Posted at 6:50 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, AR-As the heat from the fire at Cavenaugh Lincoln-Mercury radiated onto those fighting the blaze Thursday morning, heat from the sun added to the dangerous situation.
Therefore this tent set up just to the side of the street was dedicated to keeping firefighter safe.
"This is very draining work for them. It's very physical. They've been out here for several hours. It's very dangerous work, and their physical health is of upmost importance to us all."
Paramedic Amanda Pipkin worked throughout the morning to assist fighters in staying cool and to keep their breathing regulated.
Firefighter Marty Hamrick said, "If we didn't have those resources, it would be almost impossible for us to keep up with water and rehab demands we have. We have to have someone come in and do that for us."
He says in heat like this, staying cool is a must.
"We've had to call in lots of crews off-duty just so we can have enough manpower to rotate. There's no way we could stay in this bunker gear. It's like wearing a snow suit in the middle of the summer time. So without that alone, we couldn't even get up near the fire because it's so hot," said Hamrick.
And it's those those hot temps that can lead to big problems.
"That's when you start getting into trouble is when your core temperature starts getting up. Heat exhaust and heat stress factors come into play," said Hamrick.
For that reason, even the American Red Cross was on hand passing out bottles of water and snacks.
"These guys, I know they are professionals, but they are trying to get a job done. Hopefully we are going to be here to help keep them a little cooler," said Sandy Watson.
And when the heat index is in excess of 100 degrees, firefighter have to use every precaution.
"The hot days are really bad, because we can be safe. We are not in the building doing that, but the one thing we can't control is the heat outside. If we over-exert ourselves we go down. If we go down, we can't do anything with the fire," said Hamrick.
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