Firefighters taking extra precautions working in hot weather

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — An historic building was burning in a hot, smoky fire on what was already a hot, steamy morning. That sent New Haven firefighters in to battle flames in the basement of Kumo restaurant on the corner of Elm and State Streets.

People living in the apartment on the top floor of 7 Elm Street say smoke alarms woke them around 5:30. They felt their way out through thick smoke, and all of them made it out okay.

But as firefighters broke through windows and looked for the fire’s source, two of them ended up in ambulances.

“One with a cut from glass, one from heat exhaustion,” said Assistant Chief Orlando Marcano of the New Haven Fire Dept.

But as firefighters broke through windows and looked for the fire’s source, two of them ended up in ambulances.

“One with a cut from glass, one from heat exhaustion,” said Assistant Chief Orlando Marcano of the New Haven Fire Dept.

Exhaustion is the right word, because some of these same firefighters had fought to save this 3 family house on Kensington Street. It was boarded up by morning, but the fire started about 10 p.m. Tuesday.

“They were working there all night,” Marcano said. “They probably had about 2, 3 hours in between, so our crews are spent.”

Fire crews in Meriden were also fighting flames in a 3-family house, and also feeling the strain of these dangerous temperatures.

“Just wearing the gear adds 10-12 degrees to your body temperature,” explained Chief Ken Morgan of the Meriden Fire Department. “Most of these guys are operating at full strength, but it doesn’t take long for them to start to wear down.”

“A hundred pounds of gear is enough, but when you’re moving in it and you’re going up stairs and you’re carrying tools, carrying hoses, when you’re forced to open a door, or pry a window, it gets very taxing on the body,” said Marcano.

Firefighters are only allowed to work for a limited time before taking breaks to drink water and have their vital signs monitored, but that means having extra personnel on duty at every fire.

“We made sure we called a second alarm, called for additional companies, just to make sure we rotate them every 15-20 minutes,” said Marcano.

Marcano said the quick work of firefighters will mean the restaurant, Kumo, should be able to re-open soon. There is just smoke damage to the rest of the building.

The fire marshal said he has narrowed down where the fire started to a small area in the basement. How and why it started is still under investigation.

Firefighters were briefly called back to the building later that afternoon due to the fire flaring up again.

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