The effects of different thermal environments on the physiological and psychological responses of firefighters to a training drill

D. L. Smith, S. J. Petruzzello, J. M. Kramer, J. E. Misner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Little is known about the impact of thermoregulatory demands on cardiovascular and psychological responses of firefighters during firefighting activities. This study examined selected responses to a training drill in different thermal environments. Male firefighters (n = 16) were randomly assigned to perform a simulated ceiling overhaul task for 16 min in either a neutral (13·7°C) or hot (89·6°C) condition while wearing standard firefighting turnout gear. Physiological and psychological measures were assessed before, after 8 min and 16 min of firefighting activity, and following a 10-min recovery period. The variables assessed included heart rate (HR), tympanic temperature (Ttymp), lactate level (LAC), blood glucose level, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), perceptions of respiration, thermal sensations (TS) and state anxiety (SA). Significant increases were seen for HR, Ttymp, LAC, RPE and SA, with the increases being much greater following the hot condition. Recovery was significantly slower following work in the hot condition. These findings suggest that the addition of a live fire (a common situation for firefighters) contributes to increased cardiovascular and psychological strain at a standardized workload.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-510
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 1997



  • Firefighting
  • Keywords: heat stress
  • Protective clothing
  • Thermal load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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