Hazard Alert

Firefighter collapses from
heat stroke during training

A firefighter participating in live-fire training exercises suffered a heart attack as a result of heat stroke and dehydration. He collapsed during a rest break while wearing full personal protective equipment. After immediately receiving first aid and oxygen, he was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died.

Safe work practices: image Fatality 2008-02

  • Before allowing firefighters to participate in training exercises, assess their blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature to ensure that they fall within acceptable limits.
  • Ensure that firefighters know the early signs and symptoms of heat stress — like weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, and lack of coordination. They should watch for these signs in themselves and other firefighters.
  • Make sure that, while training, firefighters get regular rest breaks in cool, well-ventilated areas, and provide them with sufficient water and fruit juices.
  • Ensure that firefighters cool down during rest breaks by removing their turnout gear.
  • Appoint a rehabilitation officer to each training session to monitor firefighters and to ensure that they drink plenty of water and cool off during breaks.
  • Establish procedures to treat firefighters who are experiencing heat stress as well as the more serious and life-threatening heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

For more information about establishing a rehabilitation program, contact the Fire Chiefs' Association of BC at fcabc@shaw.ca.

Industry: Firefighting