Firefighters take precautions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Firefighters take precautions

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April 22, 2007

Waycross--  Jamie Rittenhause is one of only a handful of Field Safety Officers for the Ware County Wildfire.   "We're trying to put some name requests in to get them out here we have five," he says.  With only five people and 58,000 acres to cover- they've got a big job to do.  

"My job is basically to come out here and keep these guys safe, make sure they're wearing they're proper P.P.E.," says Rittenhause.  That is, Personal Protective Equipment.  From their hard hat covered heads to their leather boots, these guys are covered.  "Fibrant souls so they don't burn or anything and you can walk across some mucky areas, hot embers and stuff like that to protect your feet," says Rittenhause.  Their fire resistent, Nomex clothing keeps sparks and embers off of them. 

Perhaps the most important piece of safety gear to have out here is this fire shelter. If a firefighter finds himself trapped, he can deploy it and take cover underneath.  It sits like a tent but can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees.   Rittenhause says, "this is kind of a last resort. You have to lay on the ground, put it over you and let the flames pass by."

Firefighters train all year to make sure they can deploy the shelters within twenty-five seconds. It's all these pieces together that provide the necessary protection.  "They need to have if all, its very important, the nomex and the fire shelter is a must," Rittenhause says.

Those items, along with their field safety officer- there to make sure these brave mend and women have everything they need.

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