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      Burning up: Syracuse Fire Department sees rise in calls

      The recent hot, dry weather is creating more work for the Syracuse Fire Department. It has received 14,250 calls so far this year, and is expected to receive more than 26,000 calls by the end of 2012. That's up from 25,000 calls in all of 2011.

      The weather is partially to blame for the increased number of calls. "With the hot weather like this, the grass gets very dry, and we definitely see an increase in grass fires and mulch fires," said Lieutenant Mark Kraner from Syracuse's Engine Company 7. "Just with the dry weather, we haven't had rain in a while."

      The weather is also increasing the number of heat-related 911 calls. Since firefighters are first responders, they must also handle these emergencies. "A lot of people that have chronic medical problems, their chronic medical probelms can be exacerbated by high temperatures and high humidity, so they don't cope as well," said Lieutenant Kraner. "So we definitely see an up-tick in those kind of calls, too."

      The firefighters also need to be careful in the heat. They each wear 40-60 pounds of gear to a fire. "Even before they get to the front of the building, their core temperature is already starting to rise because they're in a cocoon of protective gear," explained Fire Chief Mark McLees.

      To minimize the risk of fires, the Syracuse Fire Department says to not throw cigarette butts on the ground and to be careful when grilling, especially with charcoal.