Heat Wave & Firefighter Safety

With the current weather, more attention needs to be given to the condition of your firefighters on a rescue or fire scene.

Below is a snip from the latest OFPC Safety Alert:

The heat wave that has been affecting much of the central U.S. continues to produce dangerous levels of heat and humidity from the Dakotas to Texas and eastward into the Ohio Valley. Heat index values as high as 131°F were reported yesterday and excessive heat watches, warnings and heat advisories are in effect today for a large portion of the central U.S., with temperatures in many locations exceeding 90 degrees, but feeling like 100-110 degrees or higher with the high humidity factored in. The large area of high pressure responsible for the excessive heat will expand eastward over the next several days, with high temperatures in the mid- to upper 90s reaching the Mid-Atlantic states today, and nearing 100 degrees by Thursday across the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Southeast. Many parts of New York State will see hazy sunshine, very hot temperatures and near oppressive humidity levels.  Excessive Heat Advisories will likely be issued for many sections of the New York State, especially the NYC Metro area, as heat index values will likely rise above 100F. Excessive heat is forecast to grip most of the eastern half of the country through at least the weekend.

Current weather information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): http://www.weather.gov/

The anticipated extremes in temperature pose a life safety hazard to firefighters, EMS, and law enforcement. Incident Commanders must consider adequate resources for the safety of emergency responders. When challenged with this situation, remember the LIFE SAVING TACTIC of firefighter REHAB!

  • Once firefighters rotate out of the firefighting mode, they must report to REHAB so they can be ready to get back into the “working” mode when needed.
  • REHAB is a critical process, so much more than a candy bar and a bottle of water.
  • Command, chief officers, and line officers must closely monitor their personnel for the signs and symptoms of heat-related emergencies.
  • Command must ensure that adequate resources are available to rotate crews into REHAB without depleting firefighting resources.

The U.S. Fire Administration has done a great job outlining the proper REHAB procedure.

A copy of the original USFA Emergency Incident Rehabilitation manual may be viewed and downloaded from the following page of the USFA Web site: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/FA-114.pdf

Link to PowerPoint presentations on heat stress and REHAB: http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/alerts-bulletins/safety/documents/2011/osha-heat-stress.pdf

Stay safe!

 

Link to the OFPC Heat Wave Safety Alert:

http://www.nyalert.gov/Public/News/DownloadAttachment.aspx?id=1112

Link to the OFPC Safety & Recall Alerts Webpage:

http://www.dhses.ny.gov/ofpc/alerts-bulletins/safety/index.cfm

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