Central Texas fire departments low on bottled water during dangerous heat

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 12:00 AM CDT
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ROBINSON, Texas (KWTX) - The triple-digit heat is causing a shortage of water for local fire departments--not the water they need to fight fires and save property, but the water they need to save themselves.

”Every first-responder organization, especially the volunteer fire departments, are needing water,” said Luke Rawlings, President of the Robinson Volunteer Fire Department. “We go through it fast.”

Firefighter turnout gear can weigh upwards of 45 pounds--when you mix in 105 degree heat (the high temperature in Robinson Monday) and a 1,500 degree wildfire...the temperature inside turnouts can reach a dangerous 160 degrees.

“Dehydration is no joke, heat exhaustion is no joke, and we have had a firefighter go down because of it several years ago,” said Rawlings. “This water means everything to us, this is our hydration, it’s our rehab.”

However, bottles of water and Gatorade are becoming sparce at fire departments across Central Texas.

Rawlings says they already used a lot of water before, during and after calls to hydrate, but now, with the dangerously hot temperatures, they’re running through cases of water much faster than normal.

As a result, the department has started a water donation drive to keep them stocked...and safe.

“We haven’t done one in about three years, we’re taking everything from Gatorade to water, monetary, hugs,” said Rawlings. “This is just to help us go home, this is to help us do what we do for our community.”

Other volunteer departments like Elm Mott Fire are also taking donations.

“I think, on average, you have ten firefighters on the scene of an active call, a small one at that, and we’re going to go through at least five bottles per person,” said Rawlings.

That’s two cases per call on a normal day, and even higher on a hot day.

Robinson VFD responds to 1,200 calls per year, Rawlings said.

Water donations can be dropped off on the front porch of the Robinson VFD building at 204 S. Strauss St.

For monetary donations, visit www.robinsonfire.org or visit the agency’s Facebook page.

Rawlings says the drive has been going on for about a week and has been successful so far.

Any extra donations will be shared with other local emergency agencies.

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