Firefighter treated for heat exhaustion after battling Berwyn restaurant fire

FiresDisasters and AccidentsAutre Monde

A Berwyn firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion Thursday while battling a fire at Autre Monde Cafe in the 6700 block of Roosevelt Road.

The blaze broke out around 11:30 a.m. Thursday when an unattended charcoal fire in the food preparation area ignited a wooden fence, which then ignited the siding, said fire chief Denis O’Halloran.

The fire was struck out about an hour later but caused significant fire, smoke and water damage to the rear of the eatery, O’Halloran said.

At the time, the mercury was well into the 90s and climbing. Since removing their protective gear is never an option, O’Halloran said that vigilant prevention is key to keeping his crews in optimal condition when on the job.

They start their days making sure they stay hydrated, O’Halloran said, and daily training session are often moved indoors to limit sun and heat exposure. While on a call, O’Halloran said crews rotate frequently to avoid overexertion, and an air-conditioned bus accompanies the crews where they do “fire-rehab,” checking vitals, blood pressure, and core temperature. Supervisors also carry large pails of ice water on the trucks and firefighters will get sprayed down with water from the hydrants.

Still, one firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion at the scene of Thursday’s fire and released, O’Halloran said.

“A lot of time when they’re on a call and the adrenaline is pumping, they don’t realize the effect of heat on their bodies,” O’Halloran said. “They’ll want to work until they pass out but it’s our job as managers to pull them out and make sure they go home that day and come to work the next day.”

cdrhodes@tribune.com

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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