Selected hormonal and immunological reponses to strenuous live-fire firefighting drills

D. L. Smith, S. J. Petruzzello, M. A. Chludzinski, J. J. Reed, J. A. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the effects of strenuous live-fire firefighting drills and a 90 min recovery period on selected hormonal, immunological and psychological variables. Apparently healthy, male, professional firefighters (n = 11) performed three trials of standardized firefighting tasks in a live-fire training structure. There was significant leukocytosis immediately post firefighting activity that persisted following recovery, although there was a variable response among the leukocyte subsets. Most notable was the decrease in number and percentage of lymphocytes following 90 min of recovery. Plasma levels of ACTH and cortisol were significantly elevated post firefighting activity and cortisol remained elevated following 90 min of recovery. Elevated cortisol immediately following activity was related to reduced feelings of energy. These data demonstrate the magnitude of the physiological and psychological disruption following strenuous firefighting activity and suggest that immune function may be altered following such activity. This is a finding that may have practical consequences for this group of first responders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-65
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005


  • Firefighting
  • Heat stress
  • Hormonal response
  • Immunological response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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