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Heat acts as fighting force against Utah fire crews

Posted at 9:49 PM, Jul 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-25 23:49:02-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Fire crews are battling more than flames in Utah, perhaps their toughest opponent is the heat.

“The heat exhaustion issue this time of year, whether we’re doing a structural protection or wildland, it’s equally as bad,” said Captain Adam Davies with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week he was on the front-lines of different grass fires. The high temperatures during each fire has been in the mid to upper 90s.

“We can lose, I believe the stat I saw was, three percent of our body weight in thirty minutes,” said Evan Fitzgerald, a firefighter with the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Two firefighters suffered heat related injuries during the Ensign Peak fire on Tuesday. But it can be hard for people to understand just how hot the ground can get on the fire lines.

“The ground out there is definitely much hotter than even standing on the asphalt,” said Captain Davies.

Using an infrared thermometer, Fox 13 News got ground temperature readings as high as 425 degrees Fahrenheit during a grass fire along the I-215 west belt on Wednesday afternoon.

“If they hit a point where they are running out of gas, they have to be willing to tell you that,” said Captain Davies of his crews, fighting not just the fire, but the heat as well. But he admits, that can be tough. No firefighter wants to admit they need to step away from the job of putting out a blaze.

“Nobody wants to cry uncle before anyone else,” said Davies.