How firefighters train to fight fires in extreme heat

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Fighting fires during extreme heat poses unique challenges. That's why first responders from Kansas City and Raytown are training to better cope with our triple-digit conditions. When it's not a safe day to be working hard outside in the sun, commanders want rescue workers to be prepared for extreme temperatures they may face this week.

Firefighters wear heavy bunker gear that makes it difficult for them to stay cool. With a heat advisory in effect for Wednesday, rescue workers are entering a training building where there's a blaze burning at 700 degrees. They're working to put out the fire, search for and rescue any victims trapped inside, and come out safe and sound without overheating themselves.

That's not easy to do in high heat and humidity, so the fire department has some special gear they bring to every working fire. Benches and canopies provide shady spots to cool down. And misting fans set up quickly to spread cool water across their bodies. That helps keep firefighters productive during situations when hard work must continue.

"When we get the heat is when you're going to see it a whole lot," said Michael Latta, a division chief with the Kansas City Fire Department. "So there's only maybe a month or so, it's varied with humidity and heat, with what we're going to need. Then it's an extended fire."

Tuesday alone, the fire department tells FOX 4 News there were two or three fires where rescue workers had to cope with brutal heat and humidity. Their pace may slow a bit during difficult conditions, but the idea is to keep a steady response, and make sure the men and women battling the blazes don't become endangered.

This exercise also is giving Raytown and Kansas City firefighters an opportunity to work together. They often see each other at fire calls, and by working together more often, they say their responses to common calls will improve.

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