A Message from IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger
IAFF Brothers and Sisters,
More than 25 years ago, the IAFF produced a manual outlining the effects of thermal stress on fire fighters. Since that document was published, our understanding of thermal stress, its effects on the body, and the prevention and treatment of conditions caused by exposures to hostile physical environments has evolved considerably. Still, the statement in the preface to that first edition still holds true today:
"Of all occupations, none are exposed to the worst extremes of weather conditions more than fire fighting. The fire fighter's job must be done whether in blistering heat or frigid cold, as human lives are always at stake. However, the fire fighter also has the right to be protected from the environment to the maximum extent possible through the use of protective clothing and improved tactical procedures."
The physical and mental demands associated with fire fighting and other emergency operations, coupled with the environmental dangers of extreme heat and humidity or extreme cold, create conditions that can have an adverse impact on the safety and health of emergency responders.
Fire fighters who are not provided adequate rest and rehydration during emergency operations or training exercises are at increased risk for illness or injury, and may jeopardize the safety of others on the incident scene. When emergency responders become fatigued, their ability to make critical decisions diminishes.
Rehabilitation remains an essential element on the incident scene to prevent more serious conditions -- such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke -- from occurring. Accordingly, the IAFF, with the support of the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), has produced this Emergency Scene Rehabilitation Manual and curriculum materials to better educate all in the fire and emergency medical services.
We are proud of this effort, and believe these materials will serve to better protect our members.
Harold A. Schaitberger