Firefighters battle the heat in addition to flames

July 6, 2010 2:27:59 PM PDT
Firefighters battled heat exhaustion and dehydration as they fought the flames in Queens today."This is about the worst conditions firefighters will face," one firefighter said.

A routine apartment fire in Astoria became an exercise in exhaustion as firefighters laden down with gear struggled to keep cool.

"The gear is very heavy. It keeps the heat in, so the operational time of our firefighters is reduced significantly,"

The Fire Department says it took nearly an hour and a half to get the fire under control. It spread among a group of two-story buildings sharing a roof. No civilians were injured.

The fire department rolled out extra resources, like a massive fan to blow refreshing mist at weary rescuers. Still, 18 of them needed treatment for heat exhaustion.

The firefighters were brought to Elmhurst Hospital Center for treatment.

That was the bad news. The good news is firefighters have reported no problems with water pressure amid concerns people might open up fire hydrants illegally to keep cool.

The FDNY has gone from block to block, like in East New York, Brooklyn, turning hydrants into "legal" water parks. They installed a special sprinkler head that conserves water.