Being a fire equipment service technician for over 20 years and living in Florida for the past 40 years, I have learned that when the summer months come, you have to begin preparation for those summer days! Working outside can be detrimental to ones health if you do not plan ahead. Many people take for granted how the sun does damage to our skin, possibly causing heat stroke and even death. When heat rises, we need to take extra steps to protect ourselves and our staff members. This is why I wanted to write this article to let future employees and customers consider some of the issues that arise during the summer months for field technicians.
I know from servicing fire extinguishers for several large apartment communities in the middle of summer is real tough. There are many times when you have to walk up stairs, 3 floors with fire extinguishers in hand, when there is no coverage from the sun and worse yet, no breeze. Days when this occurs, can only be looked at as if it was a nightmare for the inexperience technician. Times like this you, one can only hope for rain or for completing the job as quick as possible.
Then there are those days when we have those torrential downpours, when it almost seems like we are in the middle of a hurricane. Weather is a major play factor when it comes to performing service outside during these summer months in a productive manner. It is almost impossible to perform recharges outside when it is raining out. Between the rain and the high humidity, many times equipment does not work effectively, wasting a lot of valuable time and losing profits.
Many things to consider are heat exhaustion, heat stroke, sun burn, dehydration and fatigue. That is why during these summer months that every service technician should have plenty liquids available for keeping the body hydrated, maintain a nutritious diet and reduce alcohol intake. Take breaks as needed and seek for shade or A/C. Wear clothing that is light weight, light colored and wicks easily. Prepare for making as less steps when climbing stairs by carrying enough fire extinguishers to reduce excess trips to service truck to restock. Have a helper for large jobs. If you need to, prep with customer to do less equipment per day to reduce health issues.
Employers; during these summer months, assist your techs by giving them coolers with gator aide or water, advise them to take breaks as needed and to always inform you of any injury, lightheaded feelings or discomfort that could lead to a serious condition. Lets help our field technicians become more productive in a healthier way this summer! For more information related to health related issues of Summertime Acute Heat illness visit EHP.