Homeland Security and Emergency Services

Safety Alert

Dangerous Heat Wave Continues. . . Hot Weather Firefighting and Emergency Operations. . .and Firefighter REHAB!

Published: Wed, 20 Jul 2011 08:39:14 EDT
The heat wave that has been affecting much of the central U.S. continues to produce dangerous levels of heat and humidity from the Dakotas to Texas and eastward into the Ohio Valley. Heat index values as high as 131°F were reported yesterday and excessive heat watches, warnings and heat advisories are in effect today for a large portion of the central U.S. , with temperatures in many locations exceeding 90 degrees, but feeling like 100-110 degrees or higher with the high humidity factored in. The large area of high pressure responsible for the excessive heat will expand eastward over the next several days, with high temperatures in the mid- to upper 90s reaching the Mid-Atlantic states today, and nearing 100 degrees by Thursday across the Mid-Atlantic and parts of the Southeast. Many parts of New York State will see hazy sunshine, very hot temperatures and near oppressive humidity levels. Excessive Heat Advisories will likely be issued for many sections of the New York State, especially the NYC Metro area, as heat index values will likely rise above 100OF. Excessive heat is forecast to grip most of the eastern half of the country through at least the weekend.

Current weather information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

Hot Weather Firefighting and Emergency Operations. . .and Firefighter REHAB!

The anticipated extremes in temperature pose a life safety hazard to firefighters, EMS, and law enforcement. Incident Commanders must consider adequate resources for the safety of emergency responders.

When challenged with this situation, remember the LIFE SAVING TACTIC of firefighter REHAB!

  • Once firefighters rotate out of the firefighting mode, they must report to REHAB so they can be ready to get back into the "working" mode when needed.
  • REHAB is a critical process, so much more than a candy bar and a bottle of water.
  • Command, chief officers, and line officers must closely monitor their personnel for the signs and symptoms of heat-related emergencies.
  • Command must ensure that adequate resources are available to rotate crews into REHAB without depleting firefighting resources.

The U.S. Fire Administration has done a great job outlining the proper REHAB procedure.

A copy of the original USFA Emergency Incident Rehabilitation manual may be viewed and downloaded from the following page of the USFA Web site:

Link to PowerPoint presentations on heat stress and REHAB:

NYS Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has additional information for the general public at:

Information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

OSHA pamphlet on Heat Stress:

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDCP) maintains information on Extreme Heat emergencies here:

Excessive Heat Events Guidebook from EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has produced the Excessive Heat Events Guidebook with assistance from Federal, state, local, and academic partners.

Designed to help community officials, emergency managers, meteorologists, and others plan for and respond to excessive heat events, the guidebook highlights best practices that have been employed to save lives during excessive heat events in different urban areas and provides a menu of options that officials can use to respond to these events in their communities.