To: Head of Fire Departments
From: Stephen D. Coan, State Fire Marshal
Date: January 28, 2003
Re: Activation of the Incident Rehab Unit

The Department of Fire Services (DFS) is pleased to announce the availability of an Incident Rehab Unit (bus) to support the Commonwealth's fire service, effective February 1, 2003. Attached you will find the flyer which indicates the process for activation of the unit and support team and which can be posted in appropriate locations within your fire department and/or dispatch center.

The Incident Rehab Unit and team will respond to a request from the incident commander at any incident to provide a wide range of support and coordination for rehab purposes.

The team is comprised of staff that also work as part of the Incident Support Unit, all of whom have been trained utilizing the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy program "Rehab on the Fire Ground." Team members will assist in set up and operation of the rehab area and will work in conjunction with local EMS to provide proper monitoring if so desired.

The vehicle is a transit bus that has been converted for optimal use in this type of operation. The unit is equipped with both heating and air conditioning to work in typical New England environments. In the event the bus itself cannot be placed in an optimal position, portable equipment has been purchased, with many components stored on board the bus, to allow for remote operations. Like the Incident Support Unit, there is no charge or fee associated with the use of the Rehab Unit or the support team.

The vehicle by its original design is not powered for a rapid deployment. When requesting the vehicle, consideration should be given to the travel time from DFS in Stow to the incident.

The mission and goal of the Incident Rehab Unit should not be misunderstood. It is truly a support team that will work with local staff and under the direction of the local command structure and will not take over local efforts. The mission of the Rehab Unit is to be deployed to support the local command structure with resources to provide proper "fire ground" rehab at any incident the fire services is involved with anywhere in the Commonwealth. The goal is to promote and deliver exceptional operational support to the operations of the fire service within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts by providing professional, efficient, and high quality rehab support services to any incident in a timely and proactive manner.

It is important to recognize that the Rehab Unit is NOT a "canteen" service; however the unit does carry the necessary liquids to help hydrate firefighters. Should it be desired and is not pre-planned, then the staff on the unit will attempt to coordinate such services.

The local EMS provider is a key component to proper fire ground rehab. A designated EMS staff and transport unit should be provided to work within the rehab area. DFS staff from the Rehab Unit will work with local EMS to monitor and provide medical support as deemed necessary.

The following is a partial list of equipment carried on board the unit:

  • Tents with complete enclosures that range from 8' X 8' to 10' X 20'
  • Variable speed (electric) fans with misting rings. Limited garden hose and fittings.
  • Tables and chairs
  • Trauma and Oxygen kits
  • Coolers
  • Dispensing jugs with additives (Gatorade and Squincher mixes)
  • Proper documentation forms
  • Sheets and towels

Available but not carried on the bus:

  • Portable space heaters with flexible tubing
  • Generator

As you see in the attached flyer pdf format of rehabbus.pdf
, activation is made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, through a single phone call to MEMA Headquarters in Framingham at 508-820-2000. Ask for Communications. Once the phone call is made, the State Fire Marshal, Deputy State Fire Marshal or a designee will be paged, and activation of the appropriate driver and support team will take place.

Through the cooperation of the Fire Chiefs' Association of Massachusetts and the Staff at DFS, we have been able to once again offer an important service to all cities and towns in the Commonwealth.

If you have any questions please contact the Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit at 978-567-3300 or in Western Massachusetts at 413-587-3181.