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.
However, the physical and mental demands associated with firefighting 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.