Elkhart, IN -- A hot fourth of July like the one this year leaves firefighters on edge. They know that at any moment they could be called out for a heat related illness, a fireworks injury or even a fire sparked by fireworks.
Elkhart City Fire Fighters told ABC 57 News that it’s really impossible to prepare any differently then the do for any other day.They are geared up and ready to go.
On hot days like Wednesday the firefighters are able to wear lighter
clothing underneath their rig gear, to keep them as cool as they can be, so the heat doesn't effect their ability to function.
The Elkhart City Fire Department has 7 stations across the city, including their headquarters. In all 34 firefighters were on the clock this 4th of July, ready to go no matter if it's a fire or medical related run.
As of 7pm firefighters have been dispatched out on 6 heat related incidents.
Lt. Kristi Sommer who’s worked for Elkhart Fire for 16 years responded to 2 of those calls.
Sommers said, "we’ve had more grass fires lately. Last week we had a grass fire that spread to a house and started a house fire.”
She said working as a firefighter/EMT, “we are like brother and sister down here, so we get along real well, we live with each other every 3rd day.”
Battalion Chief Scott Chris said, “there’s two battalion chiefs for each shift, and we take turns having holidays off and I had fourth of July off last year, so he gets it this year.”
“Pretty much we are paying attention to the heat today, I don’t expect it to be two busy, I think people are going to heed the warnings with the fireworks, but the heat is what really knocks the guys out really fast,” Said Scott.
If things get busy later in the evening and people decide to light off fireworks despite the county wide burn ban and fires ignite Scott said they’ll be ready.
“At every structure fire response we’ll send two ambulances, one will be strictly for rehab of the fire fighters, all of the ambulances are air conditioned.”
While firefighters take brakes in the ambulances Scott said, “they’ll get guys in there and get them hydrated.”
As of 7pm Elkhart City fire crews haven't been dispatched to any fires and a
check with the Elkhart City Police Department only shows 1 fire work complaint. but they suspect that might change later tonight.