Hostile Enviroment Awarness Training (HEAT)

I’m going to give you a unique insight into the steps that security professional’s use when working in hostile areas like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Africa to keep themselves out of harms way. The set of free presentations starting with Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT): An Introduction, will be available for download in a presentational format on my website. They will give you a unique insight into the battle-tested procedures that are used on a daily basis in high-risk areas to keep people safe.

This type of intelligence normally takes the form of intensive training regimes that cost thousands of $/£’s. The usual participants for these niche courses coming from media companies, NGO’s, the oil & gas sector, or other organizations that due to the nature of their business put their people in harms way. However, there is a new type of attendee.  Staff from companies that have realized their duty of care responsibilities and are thinking ahead, offering even employees who visit lower risk destinations HEAT training as an added precaution in an attempt to offset financially crippling lawsuits that could occur in the event of an incident taking place.

So what is a hostile environment, how is it described? Categories of hostility are taken from a threat and risk assessment of the country in question. (I will offer a simplified version of threat and risk at this point as I will be giving you a more in depth explanation in future posts). Basically hostility is calculated on the dangers within the country and the possibility of them happening – identify the threat then quantify the risk. Colors on threat maps vary; the ones I like to use are:  green, yellow, red and black. The latter two relating to HIGH and EXTREME conditions for Hostile Environments.

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An example of country designations. (Correct at time of publication.)

Note: there are a number of companies who publish threat maps. Few are updated regularly, the ones that are normally involving a paid subscription. Most are published once/twice yearly, but due to the dynamic nature of a threat picture within an area, I would consider these as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike. For free up to date intelligence visit the UK & US government travel sites, both of which provide excellent current information.

It’s rare that a whole country is designated with the same level of risk. Take Nigeria for example; although there is a problem with terrorism in the north from Boko Haram, the main threat in the south is related to criminality.
It’s rare that a whole country is designated with the same level of risk. Take Nigeria for example; although there is a problem with terrorism in the north from Boko Haram, the main threat in the south is related to criminality.


Most people visiting hostile areas are contractually obliged to do so. In other words they’ve signed up for it, the legal term; volenti non fit injuria. Volenti as its known for short means that the person involved acknowledges the fact they are being put in harms way. But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you can be used and abused by your company; oh no. You’re still owed a duty of care, with the onus on your employer to ensure they take all reasonable steps to ensure your safety and well-being.


But people entering into this environment must be aware that there are expectations made of them.  They will be potentially exposed to explosions, shootings, dealing with casualties, restricted movement, harsh conditions, and K&R (kidnap and ransom, also covered in later blog).  Its not for the feint hearted and those that choose to travel to these areas shouldn’t do so lightly.  But don’t worry if you’ve made up your mind, I’m here to help.

Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) is a huge subject covering a diverse number of topics.  I’m going to give you the basics.  If you want information on a particular subject, or more in-depth details on one already  covered just let me know.  I’m here to answer your questions – my objective to make sure that you have the information you need to survive.

Next blog:  threat, vulnerability, impact and risk assessments and what you need to do before you depart on your adventure.

Oops, sorry nearly forgot  to give you the answer.  You are!  It’s your life take ownership of it.  If you’re asked to do something, a journey or task that your not happy with then ask for more information.  The more facts you can get the more informed decision you can make.  Demand to see the risk assessment.  The assessment should be made readily available to you preferably in writing or at least verbally.  It will tell you what steps have been taken to increase your safety – or as we put it in the industry, to mitigate the risk.  If its not available then that’s a worrying sign that there is something endemically wrong with the safety management system that is there to protect you.  Say No; refuse.  Worse case scenario;  they send you home.

Remember: stay low and move fast!


  • …..a wonderful and professional piece of literature. Before or during deployments hostile environments, HEAT training, proper risk assessments of tasks, locations and routes can make a difference between staying here on earth or direct movement up to the Lord.

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