Local fire crews explain how fire shelters work

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by WHITNEY WARD & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on July 1, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 8 at 3:24 PM

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- Officials said the Hotshots who died in Arizona tried to deploy their fire shelters but they would have known it was a last ditch effort.

A fire shelter is something every firefighter carries with them at all times and they hope they never have to use it.

Lt. Nathan Jeffries from Spokane Fire District 9 has received heavy training on how to use his emergency fire shelter. He said a firefighter could theoretically survive in there despite temperatures of 200 degrees.

The shelters work by reflecting heat away from the inside and trapping the breathable air.

"The big thing is to protect your airway. The body is resilient. But if you damage your airway it's very hard to recover from that," said Lt. Jeffries.

A firefighter's chance of surviving in a fire shelter is only 50/50 or even less in terrible conditions.

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