Fire crews cautious in the heat - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Fire crews cautious in the heat

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FLINT (WJRT) -

(07/06/12) - The non-stop heat is hard on everyone.

But imagine you have to put on an extra 80 pounds of stuff.

That's what it's like for firefighters.

Friday, Flint crews were battling a blaze at one of the warmest times of the day, right around noon.

The mostly abandoned building, on Pierson at Clio, used to house the Michigan Department of Human Services facility.

It was evacuated in 2010 because of health and safety issues.

"It feels worse than a sauna," says Flint Firefighter Amy Rygwelski. "It's brutal."

The non-stop heat, coupled with the fire they're fighting, has the potential to be hazardous to their health.

Flint crews have been lucky so far, no injuries reported as far as Battalion Chief John Babb knows.

Mutual aid was called for the mid-day fire.

"We were limited with hydrants in the location so I requested a tanker and extra trucks," Babb said.

The extra help also allows crews to rotate.

"They can take a breather, get their gear off, re-hydrate and get their body temperature down," Babb says.

Rygwelski says she's been off for a few days. This is the first time she's been out, at work, in this heat.

"Not all of them, but some of our rigs have air conditioning so you know we can sit in there for a little while," she says.

"Rotate crews as best you can. Get as much rest as you can in-between fires. Try to have EMS on scene if you need them," Babb says.

As for the fire?

"We did go in briefly and we decided it was unstable, so we pulled the crews out," Babb says.

It is suspicious, and an arson investigator was called to the scene.

Fire crews had to cut a chain, on a locked fence, to get to the nearly all abandoned building.

A church is housed on the end of the building. Everything there appears to be OK.

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