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Firefighters Get Hot Under the Collar

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CLINTON — Firefighters get called to a scene and their mind-set is to save lives and property, which makes it extremely difficult to monitor themselves and avoid heat stroke and exhaustion.

Wednesday, a Sampson County fire destroyed a storage shed and a greenhouse, and came within a few feet of destroying a house. As firefighters battled the flames, the heat and humidity attacked them.

"The adrenaline is rushing trying to make you say, 'Go, go, go.' But sometimes it'll overcome you and be like the wildfires in Florida. It wasn't uncommon for 20 to 30 of them a day to be overcome by heat," firefighter Chris Wrench said.

"You get dizzy sometimes (and) have to take oxygen every now and then. If you get too bad, they teach you in class time and time again: get somebody in and get out," firefighter Bradley Teague said. "Don't risk your personal safety. You can always replace a structure, but you can't replace a life."

Firefighters have to get the fire under control while keeping their body temperatures under control.

"Once we get here, we'll assign one person to go back and get water and drinks from the store," Teague said.

"We have to switch out more often. Everybody comes up and makes sure we're all right, our body temperature and all," firefighter Lynn Royal said. "We drink our fluids and as we switch off we sit in the shade, and drink our fluids and then we'll switch back on."

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John McDonnell, Reporter
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