SAFD prepares firefighters for summer heat

Modified heat index adds 10 degrees for gear

SAN ANTONIO – For the most part this summer has been mild, compared to the high temperatures that San Antonio has experienced in years past.

But not so much for firefighters, who are still on the front lines when it comes to facing the heat.

"Here in San Antonio, it's always hot," said Christian Bove, a spokesman with the San Antonio Fire Department. "And it's actually been exceptionally hot this summer because of all the rain. The temperatures haven't been as high, but the heat index has been high because of the humidity."

The San Antonio Fire Department has a heat stress policy in place.

On hot days, it limits physically intense training to make sure firefighters are fully rested for calls. When they are out at fire scenes, they make sure crews are hydrated.

"Our dispatch is constantly monitoring the temperatures," said Bove. "And there's something called a modified heat index, where it will take the heat index and throw another 10 degrees on there to account for about 60 pounds of equipment our firefighters wear."

Another thing the fire department will do during hot summer days is bring in extra units with more manpower.

"Firefighters go in, and while they have a tank of air that should last them 30-40 minutes, when it's hot, when they're running around, they're going to go through that air a lot faster. So we'll rehab," said Bove. "We'll get these firefighters out and a new company in."

Kyasha Horne, a cadet with the San Antonio Fire Department, will graduate on Friday.

She said she knows the heat will be a challenge, but said she's ready. 

"That's why they train us so hard for this physically," said Horne. "It's for that heat exhaustion, to prevent that." 

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