CHARLOTTE COUNTY Fla.- Fighting brush fires in the Florida heat can be downright brutal. "First of all they are putting on very heavy gear they are going into the fire they are heating up," said Dee Hawkins with the Charlotte County Fire Department. For those firefighters, keeping cool in the blazing heat is a constant battle. Now the Charlotte County Fire Department has a new tool to extinguish the heat. A stand alone fire unit that responds to fires as a crew support vehicle. It has a mobile rehab station that's designed to cool crews off. The rehab station has misting fans that spray cooled water on the firefighters and something new to Southwest Florida called the Aqua Vest "It spreads cool water over the body and it allows us to get these firefighters cooled down quicker," said Hawkins
The system works by pumping ice water from a cooler through a tube and into a series of tubes in a vest that you wear. When you have it on it almost feels like you have jumped into a pool of cold water. The fire department says that having these vests in place not only gets firefighters back into the action quicker but it also cuts down on workers comp claims from things like heat stroke. Up unitl now, firefighters had to use an ambulance to cool off at a fire scene. This unit will free up that ambulance for emergency calls and get firefighters cooled off much faster and back into the action to fight the fires.