Fire chief: Use AC, but don't try to turn your house into a 'meat locker'

(Source: Lake Charles Fire Department)
(Source: Lake Charles Fire Department)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Fighting fire is a battle throughout the year, but imagine having to wear over 50 pounds of gear and carry an air tank, and wearing all that in Southwest Louisiana's summer heat.

"During the summertime, it's our peak time," said Chief Keith Murray with the Lake Charles Fire Department as the station sees an increase in runs during the summer season,"Last year, alone we took a 10% increase."

One of the main reasons he said are overheated air conditioners that lead to electrical fires.

"Your house ain't a meat locker, it can't do it," Chief Murray said and added, "Air conditioners are not meant to lower the temperature 50 degrees, if it is 105 degrees outside you can't put that air conditioner on 65 degrees and expect that machine to not work itself to death."

He said by relying heavily on your air conditioner to stay cool from the outside heat it could lead to an indoor fire.

"We see this over and over and over again during the summertime, and it's not bad machines it's just its crazy hot and you're trying to keep it crazy cool," he added.

Thom St. John with Air Conduit, LLC said there are other issues you need to look for, "It has something to do with your unit as a relationship to it's not clean, the coils are blocked off, that means it can be any dirt or any kind of thing, and what happens is the compressor has to run harder and draws more amps, and then you do have some heat issues and if you have dried leaves or grass, or a dead snake, yeah, it can cause a problem."

But regardless of what fire they are fighting the Lake Charles firefighters always stay prepared.

"We have a truck that's actually dedicated to that, it's called a Rehab truck," Murray stated. "The back of it can hold about 12 people, we have heaters, we have air conditioners, we have an RV-type awning, and we have misting fans." Along with water bottles, ice chests and other items needed.

It's all in an effort to make sure everyone is safe all while doing their job.

"Whenever their bodies are cooled down, the whole purpose is to put that gear back on and put them right back to firefight, as fast as possible but in a same manner."

Click HERE to check out tips on how you can stay safe and cool with your air conditioner as well as save money on your electricity bill or visit www.energy.gov/energysaver/tips-air-conditioners.

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