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N.S. firefighters battling both fires and heat

A Department of Natural Resources and Renewables firefighter pictured in Nova Scotia. (Communications Nova Scotia). A Department of Natural Resources and Renewables firefighter pictured in Nova Scotia. (Communications Nova Scotia).

It’s a dry and hot day in Nova Scotia with temperatures reaching peak highs of 30 degrees in some areas as firefighters continue to battle multiple wildfires.

“This is highly exertional work. They’re working hard, they’re making a lot of body heat, and they’re at a high-risk of stress or heat exhaustion,” Halifax deputy fire chief Dave Meldrum said.

“It’s hot and it’s dirty. If the canopy [of trees] is burnt then you’re being exposed to the sun,” he said.

Firefighters are staying hydrated and using cold towels around their neck to cool down.

Firefighter Riley Coffey has constantly been on his feet since the fires began. He received a moment of rest before turning around to go back and face flames, hot spots and uncertainty.

“It’s exhausting. I’m trying to stay cool as much as I can,” Coffey said.

During his time away from the fire, he said he focuses on cooling down and refueling with a meal. “Whenever I can grab a sandwich, I do. That’s pretty much it. When I take a break, I’ll take a second and catch my breath. The shade helps,” he said.

Firefighters carry up to 70 pounds of gear. The work requires consistent training and preparation to battle fires in challenging conditions like Nova Scotia is experiencing.

“We have strategies to reduce the risk of heat stress so we have active cooling equipment. We’ll take ice water in buckets and towels to a fire scene and will employ them in such a way that firefighters can try to lower their body temperature,” Meldrum said. 

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page Top Stories

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