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Firefighter Safety in Extreme Heat

Posted on July 26, 2011 by Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines

firefighter drinking a bottle of water

Hydration before dehydration is key! Photo courtesy of Dennis Wetherhold Jr., Allentown, PA.

With this summer's extreme heat in most of the country, and many areas experiencing triple digit temperatures, it is essential that you - and all of the fire service working in it - take care. Hydration before dehydration is key: do not allow yourself or those responding with you to place yourself at risk for heat related illness. Also, keep a lookout for your fellow firefighters.

Another critical function that needs to be established in this heat wave is emergency incident rehabilitation. Emergency incident rehabilitation is designed to ensure that the physical and mental well-being of firefighters and other emergency responders operating at the scene of an emergency does not deteriorate to the point where it affects their safety. It can prevent serious and life-threatening conditions such as heat stroke and heart attacks from occurring. Rehabilitation is not just for incidents, it is also a must for operational training.

Fire departments should be in compliance with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1584 Standard on the Rehabilitation of Members Operating at Incident Scene Operations and Training Exercises.

USFA has resources to assist you and your department in establishing an effective emergency incident rehabilitation program, including a comprehensive guide on Emergency Incident Rehabilitation (PDF, 5.6 Mb) which was developed through a partnership with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Additionally, the USFA website provides comprehensive information on this topic.

Please take some time to review these resources. USFA remains committed to the health and safety of firefighters, operating in any weather.

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