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Northport firefighters find ‘cool’ way to beat the heat

WBRC Keeping firefighters cool
Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 4:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 20, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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Northport, Ala, (WBRC) - Imagine wearing 70 pounds of thick clothing in the heat in Alabama. That’s what firefighters often have to do, but in Northport their little Veskimo friend does the trick when it’s time to cool down in a hurry.

The technology isn’t new. It’s been around for about ten years but it does wonders when Northport firefighters need it the most.

When Northport firefighters put on their turnouts, the weight can add up to around 70 pounds by the time they hook up all the gear including an air tank.

And with this weight there is the added heat building up especially during days like these when the temperatures soar well into the 90s. If they feel like they’re getting overheated on the scene of a house fire or any other emergency event, that’s when they pull out the Veskimo cooling vest.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s in trouble,” said Northport Battalion Chief Roger Potter.

“But if we have a long extrications event or something like that and one of our firefighters get a little bit of heat exhaustion and says ‘Hey, I’m not feeling good because of the heat,’ we’ll take him out of the environment is the number one thing we do,” Potter said.

It’s a fairly simple operation.

“What we’re going to do is get ice water out of the cooler that we carry on our apparatus, we’ll fill this up with ice water and connect it to this lunchpail-like box and once we get everything set up we’ll apply the vest, start pumping the water through it and then he’ll start feeling cool water come through it,” he said.

The Northport Fire Rescue only has one of these vests because they tend to be pricey, but one is all the department needs for now.

“Well, you don’t want it too cold, you want it to cool the outside,” he said.

Battalion Chief Roger Potter says so far they haven’t had to use the Veskimo cooling vest this summer, but there is always that next call.

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