Physiological responses to simulated firefighter exercise protocols in varying environments

Gavin P. Horn, Richard M. Kesler, Robert W. Motl, Elizabeth T. Hsiao-Wecksler, Rachel E. Klaren, Ipek Ensari, Matthew N. Petrucci, Bo Fernhall, Karl S. Rosengren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

For decades, research to quantify the effects of firefighting activities and personal protective equipment on physiology and biomechanics has been conducted in a variety of testing environments. It is unknown if these different environments provide similar information and comparable responses. A novel Firefighting Activities Station, which simulates four common fireground tasks, is presented for use with an environmental chamber in a controlled laboratory setting. Nineteen firefighters completed three different exercise protocols following common research practices. Simulated firefighting activities conducted in an environmental chamber or live-fire structures elicited similar physiological responses (max heart rate: 190.1 vs 188.0 bpm, core temperature response: 0.047°C/min vs 0.043°C/min) and accelerometry counts. However, the response to a treadmill protocol commonly used in laboratory settings resulted in significantly lower heart rate (178.4 vs 188.0 bpm), core temperature response (0.037°C/min vs 0.043°C/min) and physical activity counts compared with firefighting activities in the burn building. Practitioner Summary: We introduce a new approach for simulating realistic firefighting activities in a controlled laboratory environment for ergonomics assessment of fire service equipment and personnel. Physiological responses to this proposed protocol more closely replicate those from live-fire activities than a traditional treadmill protocol and are simple to replicate and standardise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1021
Number of pages10
JournalErgonomics
Volume58
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 3 2015

Keywords

  • core temperature
  • firefighting
  • heart rate
  • heat stress
  • test protocol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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