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Control measure

Manage physiological stress

Control measure knowledge

Fatigue is a subjective feeling of tiredness which has a gradual onset; it can have physical or mental causes and may significantly affect a person's ability to perform tasks. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in; minerals in the body get out of balance which affects the way that it functions.

Physiological stress is the body's response to a stressor such as an environmental condition or a stimulus. Depending on the stressful event, the body's way to respond to stress is by sympathetic nervous system activation which results in the fight or flight response. Examples of physiological stress are hypothermia and heat stress:

  • Hypothermia happens when a person's body temperature drops below 35°C (normal body temperature is 36.5-37.5 °C). Hypothermia can quickly become life threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency. It's usually caused by being in a cold environment and can be triggered by a combination of things such as being outdoors in cold conditions for a long time or falling into cold water.
  • Heat stress occurs when the body's means of controlling its internal temperature starts to fail; as well as air temperature, factors such as work rate, humidity and clothing worn while working may lead to heat stress. Heat stress can give rise to the medical conditions heat exhaustion and, more seriously, heat stroke.

For further information, see: Consider Welfare

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Carry out strategic risk assessments to identify foreseeable hazards within their area and identify control measures that eliminate or reduce risk
  • Consider the provision of or access to engineering controls that can assist with manual handling tasks

  • Develop service policy and procedures for the acquisition, application and maintenance of operational competency
  • Provide information to assist emergency responders in identifying signs and symptoms of fatigue, dehydration, heat stress and hypothermia

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Monitor personnel exposed to extremes of temperature for signs and symptoms of heat stress or hypothermia