FIREFIGHTER SAFETY IN WARMER WEATHER
By Scott Eskwitt
As we come into the spring months, it’s a good time to review some Lexipol policies relevant to the changing weather and firefighter safety conditions. The changing weather conditions create special issues impacting operations, personnel performance and firehouse safety. Additionally, remember your equipment needs specific attention both at the scene and back at the station.
Following are some policy areas to review with your crew in advance of responses that come with warmer weather conditions. Understanding their application will enhance firefighter safety and improve fire operations.
General Operations Incident Management: As the weather begins to warm, consider planning for personnel to establish and staff a Rehab Division upon arrival to a scene where investigation or operations may continue for longer than 30 minutes.
Emergency Response: Drivers should be aware of the potential for rapidly changing road conditions, including bridges freezing before roads, melting snow or freezing rain. The area around the station may be dry, but road conditions can change en route. Set engine retarders and traction controls according to department policy and as conditions dictate.
Swiftwater Rescue and Flood Search and Rescue Responses: With runoff from winter snowpack, local waterways may flow at a higher level and faster rate than normal, catching pedestrians and motorists off guard. Personnel should be reminded to wear appropriate PPE, including personal flotation devices. Only personnel trained for water search and rescue should participate in these operations.
Wildland Firefighting: Dry conditions already exist in many areas of the country and other areas are drying quickly. Refresher training on wildland fire tactics and response should be given to personnel.
Staging: When possible, avoid staging over running water from melting snow or ice. Consider staging away from surrounding conditions that could cause other vehicles to lose control or create unsafe conditions for personnel or apparatus.
Training Wildland Fire Shelter Deployment: Fire shelter deployment training should be provided for all personnel who respond to wildland fire incidents. A review of National Wildfire Coordinating Group pamphlet #2710 “The New Generation Fire Shelter” as well as practical exercises should be included.
This informative article is provided by our strategic partner Lexipol.