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Calls Don't Stop For DCFD On High Heat Days

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D.C. firefighters say call volume increases during heat waves.
Armando Trull
D.C. firefighters say call volume increases during heat waves.

Riding along with D.C. Fire and EMS on a day where temperatures neared 100 degrees was certainly not dull. As we headed off to a call yesterday for a person suffering from asthma at a nearby senior center, D.C.F.D. Captain Richard Zegowitz explains the kind of calls they've been responding to.

"On a busy day like this we'll get a run every 15 to 20 minutes," Zegowitz says. "Sometimes during the middle of the day, it puts a real strain on the units."

This particularly applies to the ambulances, which can be tied up for hours transporting patients to the hospital and getting them admitted, says Zegowitz.

"We just got back from Georgetown hospital and all the beds were full," he says.

Next, we're speeding with a battalion chief to a water rescue, it's a kayaker in the Potomac. A dozen units, including a helicopter, converge on the Georgetown waterfront for what turns out to be a kayaker taking a dip in the water to escape the heat.

The firefighters aren't just responding to people either. Commercial air conditioners and other industrial machinery tend to overheat, and those calls are keeping firefighters busy. Zegowitz says it all takes a physical toll.

"We have all the gear that we have to wear, and with the heat and everything it's like being inside an oven," he says.

But the men and women of the D.C.F.D. say they'll go into those ovens willingly if it means saving someone's life.

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