Flames, scorching heat add extra dangers for Northeast Ohio's firefighters

PARMA, OH (WOIO) - As temperatures soar, firefighters face a new risk when dealing with the added outdoor heat while fighting the scorching flames.

Two Cleveland firefighters were hurt Wednesday battling a fire at the Royal Oak Recycling Company on the city's west side.

"What a lot of people don't understand is your skin is your primary means of expelling the heat and when you're trapped inside of protective gear, you don't have anyway to expel it," said Parma Fire Department Public Information Officer T.J. Martin.

Martin said everyone has their breaking point.

"You become overheated and then you become tired and then the cramps start. That's why we try to cycle our firefighters in and out as much as possible and get them to a rehab area where they can become rehydrated and cool off a little bit," he said.

If firefighters aren't careful, they can end up in the hospital with heat stress.

Their gear isn't helping matters when it comes to cooling off. They're wearing leather boots, protective pants, a heavy jacket, air tank and helmet, which adds up to more than 60 pounds. When the gear gets wet, it gets even heavier, weighing 80 pounds or more.

Over the last few years, the Parma Fire Department updated their gear, buying equipment that's lighter and more breathable.

"They allow you a bit more movability, which allows you to get rid some of the heat that you build up inside your body," said Martin.

Although it's an improvement, in extreme temperatures the risk is always high.

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