6-12 Rehabilitation during emergency operations
Firefighters may be exposed to extreme temperatures or excessive work activity.
Firefighters may be at risk of heat or cold related illness, dehydration and cardiovascular stress.
Actions for employers
Employers should develop procedures that provide for rehabilitation.
Some typical rehabilitation considerations are:
- establish the rehabilitation sector away from the hazardous area
- provide replacement fluids or food
- caffeinated drinks are not recommended
- rehydrate throughout the incident, drinking approximately 250 to 400 millilitres of replacement fluids during rehabilitation
- rehydrate with 500 millilitres of replacement fluid at the end of the incident
- rotate between lighter and heavier work, when work periods are extended
- provide medical monitoring by EMS personnel where available
- while heart rate should not be the sole indicator for the extent of heat strain, elevated or irregular heart rate may be an indication of cardiovascular stress
For rehabilitation during extreme heat exposure, also consider:
- removing workers from direct sunlight
- providing active cooling by methods such as misting or forearm immersion in cool water when ambient outdoor temperature is above 25 degrees Celsius
- following the first rehabilitation session, provide an additional cooling session following the use of each subsequent cylinder of air, for personnel returning to work
For rehabilitation during extreme cold exposure, also consider providing heated shelter.
Applicable regulations and acts
- Occupational Health and Safety Act
- clause 25(2)(a) for providing information and instruction to a worker
- clause 25(2)(h) for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers
For information on the application of occupational health and safety management systems to plans for work performed under heightened-risk conditions read CSA Z1010-18 - Management of work in extreme conditions
For more information about Heat Stress, read the Ministry of Labour Health and Safety Guideline.
Read firefighter guidance note 3-3 Heat and cold stress.