LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - Two Lee County firefighters are expected to return to work Tuesday. after being hospitalized with heat exhaustion.
While firefighters are trained to take precautions, it can be difficult in the extreme heat. Ice and water are vital to firefighters during these hot summer months.
"Every truck carries water coolers on it. When they come in the morning the first thing they do when they're checking their trucks, it's one of the essential pieces of equipment on their trucks," said Chief James Howell.
But despite hydrating, two Lee County firefighters were hospitalized while fighting a blaze on East Westerlee Drive Saturday afternoon, which was sparked by lightning.
"This particular fire we actually brought in more firemen than we normally would of so we can rotate them out quicker, so they would have less time in the gear, more time to come out and do a little rehab," said Howell.
That gear is heavy and doesn't breathe like normal clothes. "You can imagine wearing your winter coat during the summer when it's 98 degrees, that's similar to what we face," said Kelly Harcrow.
The Lee County fire department is also proactive in making sure help is on scene when it's extremely hot. "We also have a policy in place that once the temperature reaches the mid 90s, that EMS responds with us on all calls."
Both firefighters were treated at the scene then taken to the hospital and released shortly after being admitted. No one else was injured in the fire.
Chief Howell says his department is thankful for citizens who pitched in to make sure firefighters had plenty of water.