Valdosta firefighters practice staying cool when fighting fires - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta firefighters practice staying cool when fighting fires

Cooling chairs Cooling chairs
Cooling chairs Cooling chairs
Ken Gallagher displays one of the fire department's cooling vests Ken Gallagher displays one of the fire department's cooling vests
Ken Gallagher Ken Gallagher
VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

When battling a fire, the heat from the flames, combined with the 60 pounds of gear firefighters have to wear, can cause them to easily overheat and become dehydrated.

That's why on Monday, in honor of International Firefighter Health and Safety Week, the Valdosta Fire Department practiced how to help firefighters cool down after a fire.

"This is critical. We fight fires and save lives. Right. But if we're not taking care of our personnel, we can't do either of those things," explained Valdosta Fire Department Captain Ken Gallagher.

The firefighters will spend around 15-20 minutes battling a fire, and then take a break to cool off while the next group of firefighters takes over.

The first and most important step is getting the gear off. "We're pretty good about helping each other out," said one firefighter as he demonstrated how they help the firefighters remove their oxygen tank off of their back. "So, then I'd help you get your coat off," the firefighter continued.

After getting the gear off, firefighters get their vitals checked and then go sit in a cooling chair. "On the arms, it's fitted with water so when they put their forearms in there the veins and the arteries close to the skin and your forearms the water cools 'em down," said Cpt. Gallagher, explain how the cooling chair works.

Firefighters also have the option of putting on a cooling vest.

"This is called a cooling vest. We soak it in water to activate it, we ring the water out, then we put it on our individuals and it cools their core body temperature slowly," Gallagher said.

And, of course, plenty of liquids are always on hand. It's a relatively simple process, but it's an important part of keeping firefighters safe so that they can continue to keep the public safe.

Copyright 2014 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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