HOT team formed among fire departments for assistance during heat
By J.J. Kindred | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As the hot temperatures continue to set records in Blount County and the surrounding area, firefighters representing most cities in Blount County have come together to help their colleagues combat the heat while they combat fires.
The Blount County HOT (Helping Other Teams) Team is the brainchild of Blount County Fire Chief Doug McClanahan. He collaborated with the chiefs of the Maryville, Alcoa, Seymour, Greenback, Townsend and Friendsville Fire Departments to send extra help to assist firefighters suffering from heat exhaustion as they battle blazes in the hot sun.
“We’ve been assisting each other last three years when it’s really hot,” McClanahan said during a telephone interview with The Daily Times Sunday afternoon. “With the high temperatures coming on and the heat, I came up with the idea saying, ‘Hey, let’s get a little farther than that — let’s get some automatic help when we need it, during hot temperatures whether it be a structure fire, house fire, brush fire, Haz-Mat, whatever we need.’”
McClanahan explained that what the concept consists of is if a jurisdiction asks for the HOT team, 911 is notified to dispatch them, where two extra firefighters from each fire department come to a particular scene. An ambulance from Rural/Metro and the rehab from the Blount Count Rescue Squad will also be dispatched.
“We’re all just helping each other out in these difficult times,” McClanahan said. “With the temperatures and humidity, firefighters are only good for half the time they normally are. If a firefighter gets hot, they will bring them out and cool them down. It’s a situation where they’re going into a hot environment and coming out into a hot environment. It takes a toll on their physical conditions, and we have make sure they get cooled off quickly, get rest time and rehydrate. With these extra folks coming in, it’s going to be a real, real help.”
McClanahan said there is no extra training for HOT team members, and they will consist of regular firefighters. The HOT team has not been called to duty as of yet, but with the increasing hot temperatures and the stronger chances for fires occurring, they should expect to pretty soon.
“Over the next 10 days with the hot weather, the chance of large structure fires or brush fires is pretty great,” McClanahan said.
“I called the other chiefs on Thursday morning to tweak (the HOT team) and make sure we’re on the same page. All the chiefs are excited and cooperative to do this. If it works out and if it’s used a few times, we will probably make this into a standard policy to dispatch these folks all the time. It shows the cooperations between all the departments servicing Blount County. We all get along well and it makes for better services.”