habitat heat

Reporter: Jonathan Hardison
New Media Producer: Amanda Lents

This heat is really slowing us all down. Especially those who work outside, like firefighters and construction workers who battled the stifling heat and humidity Wednesday.

Habitat for Humanity builds homes, and the Chandler Fire Department tries to save them. Both groups have no choice but to work through triple digit temps, and Wednesday it took total concentration to do their jobs through the heat.

Heat is nothing new to firefighters like Fire Chief Nick Granderson, "We arrived and found the whole building was fully involved in fire."

But imagine fighting flames while wearing 50-60 pounds of extra gear.

Granderson says, "It'd be like putting on several sweatshirts and going out in the summer heat."

Chief Granderson had Chandler firefighters use a buddy system Wednesday morning to protect themselves, "I've been trying to make sure guys get switched out so I don't have anybody wear out or go down. Luckily this was the morning so the heat of the day hadn't got here yet."

Sally Gries with Habitat for Humanity says, "By lunchtime they've been leaving, some folks are shutting down earlier."

Habitat for Humanity volunteers have shifted their schedules to start at 5:30 am or 6 am in the morning so they can use every minute of daylight before the stifling air becomes too dangerous.

Gries says, "We keep an eye on the temperature. If the heat index looks like it's going to be over 100, we shut the crews down."

This heat wave has slowed the neighborhood's progress, but Gries says that's a tradeoff habitat leaders are willing to accept in exchange for volunteer safety, "We try to force breaks hourly, we bring water to them if they haven't come down to the tent in a period of time, we keep an eye on each other, that's very important, and we address it at the beginning of the day as a group."

Habitat has 12 houses under construction with the new owners scheduled to move in within a month and a half or so. They'll start up another six or seven in September, they say many of their sponsors request a fall startup time specifically to avoid the hottest part of summer.