Fighting Fires Without Falling: Effects of Equipment Design and Fatigue on Firefighter's Balance and Gait

Karl S. Rosengren, Elizabeth T. Hsiao-Wecksler, Gavin Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Slips, trips, and falls are a major cause of firefighter injuries. We examine how factors associated with the individual firefighter, specific tasks involved in firefighting, and the environment relate to the incidence of slips, trips, and falls. We also review our own research examining how aspects of firefighting gear and fatigue influence the balance and gait of firefighters performing common fire fighting tasks. Our results suggest that larger, heavier air cylinders that are part of the Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) is associated with declines in balance and gait performance. Unfortunately, many firefighting departments use these heavier cylinders because they are inexpensive. We also found that wearing personal protective equipment decreases standard gait parameters associated with poorer overall gait performance. Fatigue induced by twenty minutes of simulated firefighting activity lead to an increase in movement errors that may increase slip, trip and fall risk. The importance of studying perception and action in real world tasks is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-175
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Psychology
Volume26
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Computer Science(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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