Even during the most sweltering days of a Tennessee summer, Bartlett’s firefighters are careful to don all the right gear. All 65+ pounds of it, and that’s before a drop of water splashes on them and weighs it all down. We’re talking a helmet, airpack, mask and their turnouts — an outer layer of flame-resistant Nomex, a moisture barrier to protect their skin from superheated steam, and a quilted insulated layer that touches their final layer of regular clothes. All those layers not only have to protect them from outright flames, they also have to shield against thermal/radiant heat of 800-1,200 degrees F. in the average home fire. (The scorching heat of a coil on an electric stove’s eye? That’s what 800 degrees feels like.) The firefighters hydrate heavily the day before coming to work and continue sipping while waiting at the station, because they know the heat is ahead of them and they have to be ready. So when you’re sipping that second tropical smoothie of the morning or downing the last Icee of the day, say a toast to the firefighters who are facing blistering flames in stuffy personal protective equipment on these 95-degree days. Thanks, men and women of the Bartlett Fire Department! (Click to enlarge photo.) Photo by John Collins.