‘Dangerous’: SLC firefighters fall victim to the heat during a busy week

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – It’s been a demanding and dangerous week for Salt Lake City firefighters, seven of whom required medical treatment after responding to structure fires.

While battling a blaze at the Incline Terrace Apartments early Monday morning, several suffered heat exhaustion.

“I had four firefighters that were treated,” Captain Anthony Burton said. “Two of those were transported to local hospitals.”

Then a three-alarm apartment fire Thursday evening created more problems for crews.

“We actually have three firefighters that experienced some heat exposure,” SLC Fire Department Captain Tony Stowe told reporters. “Just very hot outside and we had to go up four stories on this, deploying the hose. We’ve had a few firefighters that are overheated and being treated here on scene.”

Fortunately, nobody was injured while crews knocked down a fire in this abandoned house near North Temple Friday in 90-degree conditions while wearing heavy protective turnouts.

“Just donning the gear you’re already sweating. You’re losing water,” Capt. Burton told ABC4 News. “The weight is tremendous especially when you throw an air pack on…so you’re adding 40 to 60 pounds of gear plus your equipment you carry in and the hoses that we’re dragging so it’s fatiguing. We do condition for these scenarios but when you repeat ’em, it’s hard on the human body…We’re hot immediately and we’re losing a lot of water in sweat so working conditions for us are about 15 to 30 minutes and then we try to cycle those crews out to get a break so we’re trying to stay hydrated.”

Captain Burton says overheating can affect a firefighter’s performance, leading to trips, falls, or bad decisions.

“As we get fatigued and start to slow down, it’s human nature to start making mistakes, so it’s dangerous conditions,” he said. “That’s why we watch those work cycles so heavily.”

In a structure fire, the smoke is just as dangerous as the 2,000-degree flames. More than half of fire-related deaths are caused by smoke inhalation.

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