National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System: Fatigue

We continue with the training theme this week. We will emphasize the impact fatigue plays when realistic, labor intensive scenarios are engaged in during the hot summer months. An excerpt of this week's event narrative appears below.

"A fellow firefighter and I were both previously certified from other departments. We were told to mainly help hump hose, carry pallets for fire growth, and assist when needed with interior situations to relieve the workload from the instructors. During a trip inside the burn building to carry pallets upstairs to the main fire, we both began to feel extremely warm. Neither of us considered anything about it other than it was mid-summer, mid-afternoon and our class had been burning all day long...

As we both made our way down the stairs, we noticed that the stairwell had become extremely hot and we both were forced to get as low as we could. When we made it to the door, the door had been pushed shut and would not open. We then both turned and crawled as fast as we could past the fire room and out the main entrance.

Once outside, we then discovered that the back-up team (who were in charge of watching the fire growth) had all dressed down and turned away from the fire. We also discovered that the crew that was placed at the basement simulation door had also turned from the building and placed the hose against the doorway blocking the door from opening outward."

Conducting live fire training and other training in full PPE during the summer months requires that instructors monitor the physical condition of their students as well as themselves on a more frequent basis. The physiology of dehydration and the measures needed to counter dehydration should be well known to all instructors. Maintaining and ensuring personnel accountability of everybody engaged in the drill is equally important. Once you have read the entire account (CLICK HERE), consider the following:

1. What accommodations does your department make for live training exercises in high temperature conditions?
2. Does your department have one high heat standard for training and one for daily operations?
3. What other industries might we turn to for advice on fluid replacement and working in high heat conditions?
4. What activities may be considered suitable substitutes when outdoor activities need to be curtailed due to high heat?
5. How much training have you had (company officer or training officer) on hydration and heat related fatigue?

Have you experienced a near miss due to dehydration or heat related fatigue? Visit and report your near-miss at today so everyone goes home tomorrow.

Note: The questions posed by the reviewers are designed to generate discussion and thought in the name of promoting firefighter safety. They are not intended to pass judgment on the actions and performance of individuals in the reports.

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