As temperatures rise, Lincoln Fire and Rescue focused on safety

Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:54 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Triple-digit heat in the summer months is a reminder for all of us to stay hydrated and be careful in the sun, but for firefighters, they’re still reporting to duty every day despite the extremely high temperatures.

Heat-related illness has been one of the biggest concerns for fire crews, with nearly 75% of firefighters having experienced it, according to the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety.

Lincoln Fire & Rescue said shifts are for a 24-hour period. Firefighters need to be prepared for the entire duration of the shift.

“It’s very common within the hot months and during the Fourth of July to have multiple fires during the day,” said LFR Battalion Chief, Eddie Mueller. “That’s essentially the individuals responsibility and the captain’s responsibility to maintain their situational awareness of the heat, and respond safely so we can all go home at the end of the shift.”

Lincoln Fire & Rescue said hydrating days in advance, staying out of the sun and working in smaller increments were key strategies to prevent heat exhaustion.

During extreme temperatures, one of the biggest changes has been rotating crews, Mueller said. Winter shifts often last up to 45 minutes before a break, but during summer months, it’s just 15 to 20 minutes.

Even under extreme circumstances, Lincoln Fire & Rescue has plans in place if firefighters experience overheating.

“LFR has a rehab bus that is air conditioned. We just try and get them into the shade into a cooler environment,” Mueller said. “We also have medical personnel to evaluate them during that process to make sure we can keep functioning throughout the day, our shift is 24 hours and their well-being is important so they can respond safely.”

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