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  • Firefighters-Dealing with heat

    Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate....!

    By BECKY BOHRER
    Associated Press Writer
    BRUSETT (AP) - It was barely noon but already sweltering as
    firefighter Jason Chevoya monitored tiny licks of flame from a
    backburn just across the nearby gravel road.
    Only his dirt-caked face was exposed. On his back, he carried a
    heavy pack with such things as tool parts, drinking water and food.
    Chevoya, a 23-year-old veteran of five fire seasons, wasn't
    complaining.
    "It does get hot," the Sierra Hot Shots member said Wednesday,
    adjusting his helmet with a gloved hand and leaning on a chainsaw.
    "After a while, you get used to it, though."
    Rising temperatures in east-central Montana have raised concerns
    among fire officials about the potential for dehydration, even heat
    stroke, among firefighters working in 100-degree temperatures to
    contain large blazes generating even more heat.
    Firefighters hear the warnings every day at base camp from nurse
    Gail Huber, who also reminds them to drink plenty of water and
    sports drinks. She encourages them to use their rest periods to
    help avoid the heat-related health concerns.
    "We get a lot of complaints about headaches, dry mouth," she
    said from the medical tent at base camp. "Because of the outside
    temperature, the body temperature will raise. There's the
    additional temperature from the fire. And even if the fire is not
    right there, you have the black ash."
    Since arriving at camp Sunday, Huber said she's seen at least
    three cases of "borderline" dehydration requiring treatment. On
    average, there are between 90 to 100 cases a day at the first-aid
    tent for various ailments, including blisters and insect bites.
    She said four emergency medical technicians are on the firelines
    to assess or treat firefighters, if necessary. Fire managers also
    keep close watch on their crews.
    Ralph Firemoon Sr. told his Fort Peck 9 crew, which was helping
    with a backfire Wednesday, to spread out for lunch, in the shade if
    possible.
    "It's one of the hottest years on the line for me," he said,
    adding that his rookie year was 1982. "It's supposed to be 106
    today."
    Firefighter Jason Brown said the heat makes the task more
    difficult. "But we have a job to do," Brown said. And he admits
    it would take more than heat to douse his enthusiasm for fighting
    fires.
    Ray Brown Sr., who wears a green bandanna under his helmet like
    his brother, said he has adapted to working in hot weather, while
    being "right next to the heater." He gets his fill of water -
    even if it's "practically boiling" - and looks forward to a meal
    each night and shower back at camp.
    Firefighter Michael Vandall of Fort Peck, who is on his first
    fire, wore a muscle T-shirt at camp Wednesday morning as he waited
    for his assignment. Even if the heat saps some of his energy, he
    said, the payoff keeps him going.
    "It's all about the money," he said, smiling.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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