The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

August 27, 2013

Dangerous heat adds to firefighters' risk

OTTUMWA — Being outside in this weather is tough enough. When your job requires you to wear the equivalent of a heavy winter suit and protective pants, it's miserable.

With Ottumwa set to push the 100 degree mark, Fire Chief Tony Miller has to keep one eye on the thermometer and another on his firefighters.

“On days like this, we do indoor training,” he said. “You don't want your guys to get overheated, so we pre-plan.”

There's only one problem: Fires are notoriously bad at keeping to a schedule. And if a building catches fire, not responding is not an option.

There are some basic things you can do. The department keeps ice water on the trucks for the firefighters. If necessary, you can even hose down the firefighters. But the single biggest thing is monitoring people's conditions.

“We watch them closer than we normally do,” Miller said. The focus shifts to getting the firefighters cooled off as soon as they exit the building. “We cool them down immediately.”

Medical crews always respond to fires along with the firefighters. It's simply too dangerous a job not to take that step. That means firefighters can get quick treatment if they need it.

It's rare, but firefighters occasionally have to be taken to the hospital to get cooled down if they get dangerously overheated. There are limits to what the crews can handle on-scene.

“We had one incident earlier this year when we did have to take a guy to the hospital,” said Miller. “You can only do so much.”

Weather like what is hitting Iowa this week leaves firefighters hoping for calm. That hasn't been the case so far this year, though. More than 30 structure fires this year have made it among the busiest in recent memory.

The fires don't seem to have a clear pattern. They've been in different parts of the city and have had different causes. There hasn't been a clear thread tying them together.

It leaves Miller scratching his head.

“I've been here 32 years, and I've never had one like this,” he said.

1
Text Only
Ottumwa
  • City Council approves sale of properties OTTUMWA — On Tuesday the Ottumwa City Council met for the last regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included in the agenda for the evening were several dispositions of city owned property. Structures and land located at 519 W. Fourth St., 723 E. Mar

    April 15, 2014

  • Where to play OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa Community School District wants to discuss moving to another athletic conference. Superintendent Davis Eidahl revealed that the district has been contacted by a smaller sports league, which has extended an invitation to join the

    April 15, 2014

  • 0415 Right side up monster truck pic Nice driver --- mean machine OTTUMWA --- Drivers sat at one end of their vehicles during the "pit party," meeting fans and signing autographs before the motorsport and monster truck exhibition at Bridge View Center this weekend. Monster truck driver Orville Hill let kids --- and

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0415 OTT Composting ethical pic Recycling in a garden OTTUMWA --- Parents will tell you: They hate to see kids waste food. A gardner named Scott Koepke feels the same way. “First, let’s get our food to people who are going to eat it,” he said. “It hurts me to see kids in the schools throw away an entire

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0412 OTT Pothole color photo -T -M [Duplicate] A bumper crop of potholes OTTUMWA — The nice weather has been putting the bad roads on display. Officials say good: It gives us a chance to fix them. “Every city is going through the same thing,” said Larry Seals, Ottumwa Public Works director. “It has been an unusual winter

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home in a tent OTTUMWA -- As people live without shelter, they become desperate finding a place to sleep. The situation impacts more than just the community's homeless. "There is nowhere to put people who are homeless," said Mary Margaret Butler. "Nowhere." Ottumwa

    April 11, 2014

  • 0412 OTT Martha Speaks color photo -T -M Ottumwa children visited by cartoon star OTTUMWA — Iowa Public Television is celebrating its 45-year anniversary this year by helping communities like Ottumwa educate young children before they get into a school setting. One of the programs they are using to help reach out to children is by

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • United Way expanding on Corporate Community Garden OTTUMWA — The United Way of Wapello County created its Corporate Community Garden last year as a way to donate locally grown food to community members in need, and after a successful first year, it's hoping to expand the garden’s impact in its second

    April 11, 2014

  • City Council to discuss several property sales OTTUMWA -- The Ottumwa City Council will meet Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall for its second and final regularly scheduled meeting of April. Included on the agenda for the evening, among various other items, are several public hearings on t

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers wanted for playground construction OTTUMWA — Wildwood Park in Ottumwa is going to be the recipient of some rather significant playground upgrades in the near future, but in order for the construction of the new equipment to be free for taxpayers, there has to be enough volunteer power

    April 10, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National