Physiological, Perceptual and Psychological Responses of Career versus Volunteer Firefighters to Live-fire Training Drills

Steven J. Petruzzello, Paula Y.S. Poh, Tina A. Greenlee, Eric Goldstein, Gavin P. Horn, Denise L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A primary objective of the present study was to examine the effect of short-term live-fire firefighting activities on key physiological, perceptual and psychological variables and whether occupational status influenced these responses. It was also of interest to examine whether individual difference factors differentiated the occupational status groups and if so, whether such individual difference factors influenced perceptual and psychological responses to firefighting activities. Male firefighters (n = 52 career, n = 53 volunteer firefighters) participated in 18 min of simulated firefighting activity in a training structure that contained live fires. Measures of heart rate (HR) and Tcore were obtained before and after firefighting activities along with perceptions of thermal sensations, exertion, respiratory distress and affect. Firefighting activities resulted in significant elevations in HR and Tcore, whereas thermal sensations, respiratory distress, exertion and affect all showed significant and sizable changes reflecting greater distress and dysphoria. Occupational status and individual difference factors accounted for some of this negative change. The findings replicate and extend previous work by demonstrating the influence of occupational status and individual difference factors in the psychological responses to firefighting activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
JournalStress and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • distress
  • dysphoria
  • firefighting
  • heat stress
  • individual differences
  • occupational status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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