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As Heatwaves Scorch US, Teaching Firefighter Safety in Extreme Temperatures Takes Center Stage

by  Public Safety Group     Jul 28, 2022
GettyImages-103749838_PSGblogFFHeat_1200x630

Heatwaves during summer months have turned much of United States into a tinderbox. Firefighters are still pressed into action to battle house and building fires as well as roaring wildfires in brutal conditions.

As the world heats up, teaching fire safety is going to continue to be a critical training topic for fire instructors, particularly those in the hottest regions of the country. Firefighters need training to learn how to negotiate intensely hot weather while protecting our communities and themselves from heat exhaustion and other heat-related injuries. Without the best instructional materials and cutting-edge thinking about heat-related risks, the consequences could prove disastrous to the very people who keep us safe. Read on to learn more about how extreme heat is continuing to impact the fire service, and what tools you can use to teach appropriate measures for keeping firefighters safe.

Firefighters Face Heightened Risk of Heat-Related Illness

Like other first responders, firefighters get the job done regardless of the weather or peril. The nature of the professional is, at times, to place yourself in harm’s way. Heat stress ranks among the primary causes of illnesses and fatalities in the fire service.

Among the many challenges firefighters face in extreme heat is the personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to keep them safe from the heat in a house fire, which can rise as high as 600 degrees. The U.S. Fire Administration, in a recent blog post, reports that exposure to extreme heat situations usually occurs in limited, short doses for most firefighters, but the effects of high heat on personnel are cumulative. Extreme heat from environmental conditions adds significantly to the risk of heat-related health emergencies.

Aside from the acute risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, heat stress impacts the cardiovascular system. In fact, the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths is sudden cardiac events. The statistical data surrounding firefighter illness and deaths indicate excessive heat negatively impacts health and triggers sometimes fatal underlying conditions. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health, among others, uncovered the following:

  • Approximately 45 percent of on-duty deaths were the result of sudden cardiac events.
  • Fire departments experience 12 to 20 heart-related incidents per 1,000 crew members.  
  • More than 2,400 thermal stress injuries were reported in a single year.

In its guidance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that when a worker’s core temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees, they are at risk of heat stress and exacerbating other conditions. These typically include heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps, rashes, and fatigue. Firefighters routinely come in contact with temperatures above 500 degrees for brief periods. But as crushing heat waves set in, they get no reprieve when stepping outside a fire’s throw radius.

Can Firefighter Training Help Manage Extreme Heat Conditions?

Communities ask firefighters to shoulder a heavy load under dangerous conditions daily. The body uses an inordinate amount of energy in emergency situations and produces a tremendous amount of heat during the process. In many ways, the body of the person extinguishing a blaze mimics combustion.

Once they step away from the blaze’s throw radius, the body needs to cool down and let the perspiration evaporate. That process sometimes proves impossible under hot and humid summer weather. To combat potentially debilitating conditions during dangerous heat waves, it is essential firefighters consider the following:

  • Maintain optimal hydration
  • Maintain an adequate electrolyte balance
  • Breathe clean oxygen when not wearing personal protective equipment
  • Shelter in a reasonably cool space when possible

In the event a crew member experiences cramps, hyperventilation, chest pain, nausea, lightheadedness, or difficulty focusing, alert an EMT or other medical health professional. These may be telltale signs of a heat-related episode. But the best way to avoid health and wellness risks is to have access to essential research regarding best practices for firefighters during extreme weather events.

Firefighter Training Publication Provides Latest Skills Resources

The need for the most up-to-date and comprehensive information regarding firefighter training and safety cannot be understated. First responders put themselves in harm’s way with every call, and massive structural and wildfires test their physical and mental abilities. Add a heatwave into a heightened situation and only the most skilled and highly trained individuals know how to protect their health and welfare.

That’s why the National Fire Protection Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs put forward the fourth edition of Fundamentals of Fire Fighter Skills. The product covers the latest National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) applications and best practices.

Produced in hard-copy text, audiobook, and e-book, the publication enhances the critical thinking of veteran and newly minted firefighters alike. At the end of the day, it helps people at the frontlines to identify heat-related issues and implement solutions. Fundamentals of Fire Fighter Skills remains an essential instructional tool that can save lives. We invite qualified instructors to request a review copy in consideration of course adoption of our text.

Request a Review Copy

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As Heatwaves Scorch US, Teaching Firefighter Safety in Extreme Temperatures Takes Center Stage

by  Public Safety Group     Jul 28, 2022
GettyImages-103749838_PSGblogFFHeat_1200x630

Heatwaves during summer months have turned much of United States into a tinderbox. Firefighters are still pressed into action to battle house and building fires as well as roaring wildfires in brutal conditions.

As the world heats up, teaching fire safety is going to continue to be a critical training topic for fire instructors, particularly those in the hottest regions of the country. Firefighters need training to learn how to negotiate intensely hot weather while protecting our communities and themselves from heat exhaustion and other heat-related injuries. Without the best instructional materials and cutting-edge thinking about heat-related risks, the consequences could prove disastrous to the very people who keep us safe. Read on to learn more about how extreme heat is continuing to impact the fire service, and what tools you can use to teach appropriate measures for keeping firefighters safe.

Firefighters Face Heightened Risk of Heat-Related Illness

Like other first responders, firefighters get the job done regardless of the weather or peril. The nature of the professional is, at times, to place yourself in harm’s way. Heat stress ranks among the primary causes of illnesses and fatalities in the fire service.

Among the many challenges firefighters face in extreme heat is the personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to keep them safe from the heat in a house fire, which can rise as high as 600 degrees. The U.S. Fire Administration, in a recent blog post, reports that exposure to extreme heat situations usually occurs in limited, short doses for most firefighters, but the effects of high heat on personnel are cumulative. Extreme heat from environmental conditions adds significantly to the risk of heat-related health emergencies.

Aside from the acute risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, heat stress impacts the cardiovascular system. In fact, the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths is sudden cardiac events. The statistical data surrounding firefighter illness and deaths indicate excessive heat negatively impacts health and triggers sometimes fatal underlying conditions. A study conducted by the National Institute of Health, among others, uncovered the following:

  • Approximately 45 percent of on-duty deaths were the result of sudden cardiac events.
  • Fire departments experience 12 to 20 heart-related incidents per 1,000 crew members.  
  • More than 2,400 thermal stress injuries were reported in a single year.

In its guidance, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that when a worker’s core temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees, they are at risk of heat stress and exacerbating other conditions. These typically include heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps, rashes, and fatigue. Firefighters routinely come in contact with temperatures above 500 degrees for brief periods. But as crushing heat waves set in, they get no reprieve when stepping outside a fire’s throw radius.

Can Firefighter Training Help Manage Extreme Heat Conditions?

Communities ask firefighters to shoulder a heavy load under dangerous conditions daily. The body uses an inordinate amount of energy in emergency situations and produces a tremendous amount of heat during the process. In many ways, the body of the person extinguishing a blaze mimics combustion.

Once they step away from the blaze’s throw radius, the body needs to cool down and let the perspiration evaporate. That process sometimes proves impossible under hot and humid summer weather. To combat potentially debilitating conditions during dangerous heat waves, it is essential firefighters consider the following:

  • Maintain optimal hydration
  • Maintain an adequate electrolyte balance
  • Breathe clean oxygen when not wearing personal protective equipment
  • Shelter in a reasonably cool space when possible

In the event a crew member experiences cramps, hyperventilation, chest pain, nausea, lightheadedness, or difficulty focusing, alert an EMT or other medical health professional. These may be telltale signs of a heat-related episode. But the best way to avoid health and wellness risks is to have access to essential research regarding best practices for firefighters during extreme weather events.

Firefighter Training Publication Provides Latest Skills Resources

The need for the most up-to-date and comprehensive information regarding firefighter training and safety cannot be understated. First responders put themselves in harm’s way with every call, and massive structural and wildfires test their physical and mental abilities. Add a heatwave into a heightened situation and only the most skilled and highly trained individuals know how to protect their health and welfare.

That’s why the National Fire Protection Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs put forward the fourth edition of Fundamentals of Fire Fighter Skills. The product covers the latest National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) applications and best practices.

Produced in hard-copy text, audiobook, and e-book, the publication enhances the critical thinking of veteran and newly minted firefighters alike. At the end of the day, it helps people at the frontlines to identify heat-related issues and implement solutions. Fundamentals of Fire Fighter Skills remains an essential instructional tool that can save lives. We invite qualified instructors to request a review copy in consideration of course adoption of our text.

Request a Review Copy

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