Training Suspended After Atlanta Fire Recruits Fall Ill

Three Atlanta fire recruits were rushed to Atlanta Medical Center on Monday with heat-related illnesses following a training exercise that has now been suspended.

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Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran told WSB-TV that one of the recruits suffered a heat stroke, and was taken off a ventilator on Tuesday.

During the drills, in which recruits wear full turnout gear and SCBAs, the three collapsed suffering from the heat.

"It is alarming to us. We hear about this happening to football players this time of year with football practice, but never with firefighters," Cochran said during a video-taped interview with the reporters. "Two of them were what we called heat exhaustion and one of them entered into the more severe stage of heat stroke."

Cochran added that the one who suffered the most severe illness was alert and conscious and appears to have lost "none of his faculties..."

Fire officials are looking into what caused the heat-related illness. The high temperature Monday was 84 degrees, cooler than previous days for similar training.

Cochran is also looking into whether the recruits were staying hydrated over the weekend leading up to Monday's training.

"Two days without adequate hydration and then arriving on Monday engaging in this type of physical activity could be a contributing factor", he told reporters.

During the drills, supervisors check vital signs and recruits are required to keep hydration logs. Cochran said recruits are not currently required to log hydration over the weekend but the department may begin requiring it.

Cochran added that the department has suspended the training.

Last year, eight firefighters died during training, according to USFA statistics.