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Summer Sizzle: Many City Workers Bear the Brunt of Heat and Humidity 
If you think Knoxville's heat and humidity can be unbearable at times, imagine being a firefighter and battling a 900-degree house fire while wearing heavy, multi-layered, insulated turnout gear.

"It's like wrapping a potato in aluminum foil and sticking it in the oven," says Master Firefighter Al Ludwig, a 13-year KFD veteran assigned to the Station 11 Engine Company on Whittle Springs Road. 

On a recent run, he says, the heat inside his protective coat was so great that it literally melted a plastic band.

Pictured above, from left: Senior Firefighter Erynn Tauchen, Capt. Scott Warwick and Master Firefighter Al Ludwig with Engine Co. 11.
Pictured above, from left: Senior Firefighter Erynn Tauchen, Capt. Scott Warwick and Master Firefighter Al Ludwig with Engine Co. 11.

Station 11 Capt. Scott Warwick has seen a lot in his 28 years with KFD. He knows what to eat, how to hydrate, how to rotate crews around at a working fire, and what heat-related signs of distress to look for.

"When you're engaged in a heavy fire, you can't stop - but you do need to pace yourself," he says.

In coming weeks, read on the City Blog about how City workers are dealing with summer heat. Today's profile of the Engine Co. 11 crew kicks off the short series.

In her July 23 weekly newsletter, Mayor Madeline Rogero recognizes and thanks the firefighters. She also cites some of the many other City employees who brave the extreme temperatures as part of the everyday jobs:

"Our Police motorcycle officers contend with engine and road heat over 10-hour shifts, but they're out there every day, keeping us safe. Our Public Service Department asphalt and horticulture crews likewise take on the brunt of summer - and their thoroughness and conscientious attention to detail are praiseworthy.

"We thank our dedicated City employees for everything they do, especially those working outdoors during the hottest part of summer."

(To receive the email weekly newsletter, "From the Desk of Madeline Rogero," click on this link to subscribe: 

Working in super-heated environments, Fire Capt. Warwick says it's critical to proactively hydrate. He drinks 20 ounces of water as soon as he wakes up each morning. And then he continues throughout the day, taking in 8 to 16 ounces every hour.

Firefighters are trained to recognize warning signs - first, the indications of dehydration. Then the more serious heat exhaustion. And most serious of all - nausea, vomiting and clammy cool skin associated with heat stroke.

"That's when you're deep into it, and it's a medical emergency," Warwick says. "You just look someone in the face. The lights are on, but no one's home. That's when you need to act quickly."

At a fire scene, Warwick says, it's time to rotate firefighters around after 15 to 20 minutes - pull back those closest to the extreme heat, and let them get rehabilitated. "It doesn't take long" to get dangerously overheated, he says.

"You know when someone is reaching their limits," Warwick says. "That's why we watch out for each other, and we have to recognize the signs and symptoms."
Posted by evreeland On 20 July, 2018 at 5:21 PM