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Not everyone in Hardin County spends the hot summer inside an air-conditioned building.
Some people work under conditions of extreme heat and it’s about to get hotter. Forecasters predict temperatures at or near 100 degrees the next several days. Record temperatures are being challenged.
Here are three of Hardin County’s hottest jobs:
Even with the front door swinging wide open, the Clotheshanger still is about 10 degrees hotter than the air outside.
“It ain’t gonna get no hotter than this,” said Loretta Hall, manager and presser at the dry cleaners.
In an older building with no air conditioning, huddled in front of pressing machines with the occasional blast of steam to the face, Hall is engulfed in relentless heat.
A thermometer hanging near a pressing machine approaches 100 degrees. Hall shows off the iron burns scattered on her arms.
“It’s kind of like you have your oven on all day,” she said.
And pressers get little relief — the only air circulation comes from a few colossal floor fans and a small overhead vent.
“Maybe it’s enough air to move the hair on your head,” she said.
Pressers come in early and leave early to avoid the hottest part of the day. Sometimes the work shift begins as early as 3 a.m.
Pressers take breaks during the shift to escape the conditions. Asked how she cools off, Hall points to a large foam cup of water and said, “Drink, drink, drink, drink, drink.”
Fires don’t happen all the time, but when they do, the heat from flames can reach abominably high temperatures.
“Inside of a structure fire at the ceiling level, you can reach any temperature to 2,000 degrees,” said Lt. Jared Boddy of Radcliff Fire Department.
And at the floor level, temperatures are between 400 degrees and 500 degrees, which makes their job anything but easy, he said.
“It’s a tremendous task to fight a house fire during the summer,” Boddy said.
The heat is especially withering under the weight of their coats and gear.
“It’d probably be the equivalent of wearing two winter jackets at the same time,” Boddy said.
Firefighters also have to wear air cylinders — tanks that have enough air to last 30 or 45 minutes — that weigh 40 pounds each.
“This time of year, if you make it through two cylinders, you’ve really done something spectacular,” Boddy said.
Sometimes that is not possible. During a fire Saturday, Boddy said, they had to call for aid from a neighboring department to give some of the firefighters relief from the heat.
Cooling off often comes in the form of mists and chilled drinks provided by a rehab trailer. Boddy said the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated.
The sun beats down hard. The air is sweltering. Heat radiates from the blacktop. And the work sometimes lasts for hours at a time.
This is a typical day for a paver during the summer, a time foreman Sonny Kerrick of Elizabethtown Public Works calls “plain old labor.”
Conditions will get even tougher as the temperatures continue to rise.
“It’s gonna to be really hard,” said Kerrick, whose skin is browned from days spent under the sun.
Working in the peak of direct sunlight joined with manual labor — pouring and raking concrete and jackhammering — can cause pavers to work up quite a sweat, he said.
The only relief from eight-hour work days in 100-or-so-degree heat is finding small spots of shade. Meanwhile, pavers go through an entire water cooler a day.
Kerrick is foreman for a project along West Dixie Avenue to fix drainage and pour concrete so the road can be resurfaced.
He said they expect to be done in five or six days.
“Providing the heat doesn’t kill somebody,” he said.
Do you have a hot job or know someone who does? Tell us about it. Email email@example.com. How about the coolest jobs in Hardin County? Use the same email address.
Elizabeth Beilman can be reached at (270) 505-1740 or ebeilman@ thenewsenterprise.com.