ROANOKE, Va. – In the middle of this near-record heat wave we’ve seen the past few weeks, first responders have also been dealing with an increase in fires across the Star City.
Roanoke Fire-EMS said it has responded to five fires over the last five days. Some extra precautions the fire department is taking include switching shifts for fire staff quickly, providing lots of water and bringing in backup more often.
“Typically, we see an increase in fires in the winter months where people are trying to warm their homes and different things like that, but it has been a significant increase within the summer months, which is new to us,” Community Risk Reduction Specialist Kristen Perdue said.
One firefighter was sent to the hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion earlier this week after battling flames in a house fire on Stewart Avenue. Estimated temperatures inside the home during the blaze range from 1,000-1,500 degrees.
“We’ve had a lot of our personnel who have been here for 20+ years who said that that was the hottest fire to go into temperature-wise that had been burning the home and then hottest day that they’ve been to almost in their career,” Perdue said.
To help prevent heat exhaustion, the city brings in help from across the county line.
“It’s very much so a regional approach, so when the city has got a fire you may see county units in the city and vice versa,” Roanoke County Fire Captain Chad Wheeler said.
Roanoke County Fire Captain Chad Wheeler said combing resources helps keep both fire companies safe.
“You want to be able to rotate your people, that way we’re not dealing with the heat exhaustion or even heat strokes, we want to cycle these people out of a heated environment,” Wheeler said.
But with no end in sight for near 100 degree temperatures, both organizations are preparing for a long, hot summer.
“When you’re exposing yourself to that much heat it takes a toll on the body so we want to make sure all of our personnel are staying as safe as possible,” Perdue said.
The City of Salem and Botetourt county also share a regional fire partnership with the City of Roanoke and Roanoke County.