Firefighters battle heat in training

Posted at: 07/15/2013 11:52 PM
By: Jessica Layton

BERNE - Haytham Bajouwa has been fighting fires in all kinds of conditions for 11 years. And he's gotten used to lugging around the extra 75 pounds of gear firefighters have to wear, whether it's 5 below and icy or 95 and steamy outside, like this week.

"I've been hydrating non stop, drank at least 8 glasses of water today," Bajouwa said.

Drinking extra fluids were the instructions for firefighters and EMTs taking part in a training drill simulating a fire in a classroom at Berne-Knox-Westerlo School in rural Albany County.

"The heat just adds a whole other element, it's a lot more physically demanding," said

And they took all the precautions they would if this building was really burning, to keep firefighters from burning up with heat exhaustion.

"Hydrating is very important. We have extra coolers filled with ice, Gatorade, vitamin water. You have to replenish the electrolytes," said Berne Fire Chief Richard Guilz.

Temperatures inside a burning building can reach 1,000 degrees. That's why it's key for firefighters to immediately begin cooling down the moment they come out of the building. And to do that, they go to a tented area they refer to as the 'rehab station.'

"One of the things we look for immediately is a raise in the vital signs - rapid heart rate, blood pressure elevated," said Paramedic Kevin Crosier.

There's no taking chances. Firefighters like Haytham Bajouwa have learned in order to best help the victims they need to take care of themselves.