LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -Whether they're fighting fires in extreme heat or responding to medical calls, firefighters themselves have to pay close attention to their own health in order to avoid being overcome by the heat.
Lawton firefighters say with summer upon us, they are averaging around six heat exhaustion calls each day. They expect the number to keep rising as the temperatures rise.
Firefighters can easily get dehydrated while battling blazes during the summer months because not only do they have to battle the summer heat, but they are in full gear and it gets hotter and heavier as they sweat in their gear.
"Yeah, to tell a firefighter don't fight fire, you need to sit down and drink water, is tough," said Landon Hardin, the assistant training officer.
Hardin says it's something they have to do so they can rehydrate before heat exhaustion sets in, or even worse, a heat stroke. He says since they are such a hard working bunch it's not easy to do.
"These guys is the best firefighters in the state, hands down. They don't want to quit, they don't want to sit down and rest. You've got to tell them 'hey, sit down, get some water and we'll put you right back in,'" Hardin said.
The gear firefighters wear weighs around 40 pounds. Their gear, with the summer heat, can cause firefighters to have heat exhaustion more often. When this happens, they have to get pulled off the scene and get rehydrated before they are allowed to go back out.
"If they get beyond the point of drinking water is going to fix this, then we have the ability to, and the personnel, to that can start an IV and then give them fluids and put them back into the fight," Hardin explained.
As they sweat in their gear, it's gets heavier and hotter for the firefighters, making it more likely for them to get heat exhaustion. Hardin says you have to know what's at stake while fighting a fire.
"We need to remember what's important and that's own safety and then the safety of the people that we're protecting," Hardin said.
During the summer, firefighters are allowed to wear a t-shirt and fire resistant shorts under their gear instead of a uniformed button up shirt to keep them cooler.