Firefighter exercise protocols conducted in an environmental chamber: developing a laboratory-based simulated firefighting protocol

Ipek Ensari, Robert W. Motl, Rachel E. Klaren, Bo Fernhall, Denise L. Smith, Gavin P. Horn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A standard exercise protocol that allows comparisons across various ergonomic studies would be of great value for researchers investigating the physical and physiological strains of firefighting and possible interventions for reducing the demands. We compared the pattern of cardiorespiratory changes from 21 firefighters during simulated firefighting activities using a newly developed firefighting activity station (FAS) and treadmill walking both performed within an identical laboratory setting. Data on cardiorespiratory parameters and core temperature were collected continuously using a portable metabolic unit and a wireless ingestible temperature probe. Repeated measures ANOVA indicated distinct patterns of change in cardiorespiratory parameters and heart rate between conditions. The pattern consisted of alternating periods of peaks and nadirs in the FAS that were qualitatively and quantitatively similar to live fire activities, whereas the same parameters increased logarithmically in the treadmill condition. Core temperature increased in a similarly for both conditions, although more rapidly in the FAS. Practitioner Summary: The firefighting activity station (FAS) yields a pattern of cardiorespiratory responses qualitatively and quantitatively similar to live fire activities, significantly different than treadmill walking. The FAS can be performed in a laboratory/clinic, providing a potentially standardised protocol for testing interventions to improve health and safety and conducting return to duty decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-668
Number of pages12
JournalErgonomics
Volume60
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 4 2017

Keywords

  • Firefighting
  • core temperature
  • heart rate
  • oxygen consumption calorimetry
  • test protocol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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