St. Charles volunteer organization works to keep firefighters safe in extreme heat

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 9:58 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - As a heat wave moves through the St. Louis area, many firefighters are at a more considerable risk of dehydration or overheating due to the higher temperatures.

Many crews are taking more personnel than they normally would, allowing each other to take breaks and cool off. “It’s a risk to their lives,” said Marc Doll, the St. Charles City Fire Dept. EMS Chief. “Just being in their gear, fighting fires, or even just running on regular calls.”

Doll says the amount of water firefighters lose while on a call is extreme. And the heat bearing down on them only makes it harder. “We have had firefighters in the past that have been overheated just because they overexerted themselves because of what we do, and then had to get treated and transported to the hospital,” said Doll.

That’s when the St. Charles County Fire Rehab organization steps in. President Mark Runge says no matter the weather, firefighters need food, water, and electrolytes to recover. “The mission is to keep them as functional as possible and to help take care of our citizens in times of need,” Runge said. The fire rehab organization is made up of all volunteers. These volunteers respond to larger fires and set up tents with fans to help keep the crews cool.

A former firefighter, himself, Runge says he knows how hard it is to be out in these conditions. “They sweat like crazy and the air tanks that they breathe from have no humidity so it’s just like a paper napkin sucking water from a drop out of their bodies,” Runge said. “They can dehydrate really quickly.”

Right now, there are 34 people who volunteer with St. Charles County Fire Rehab, but they are looking for more volunteers to join. If you are interested in giving your time to help them, click here.