Year of Publication

2007

Date of Thesis

09-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Exercise and Sport Sciences

Abstract

This study evaluated the physiological costs of specific occupational firefighter (FF) tasks. Subjects were 30 active FF's (>20 hours/month on duty) with a mean age of 34+8.69 years. Measurements including oxygen consumption and heart rate (HR) were recorded while a subject performed occupational tasks designed to simulate the challenges of firefighting. These tasks are typically components of a mandatory, pre-employment physical fitness assessment. Each subject completed two days of testing. Day one included a VO2max test on a treadmill. On day two, HR and oxygen consumption were measured during two FF tasks including a stair climb (SC) and victim rescue (VR). Participants wore a 40-pound weighted vest during the SC and VR tests and National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) approved jacket. pants. and boots. Maximum oxygen consumption was 41.79±7.82 ml kg-1 min-1, which ranged from 29.50-59.30 ml kg-1 min-1. During the SC and VR tasks, subjects worked at 77.13% and 75.40% of VO2max. respectively. Likewise, HRmax was 190.4±2.01 bpm. and varied from 167-207 bpm. Relative HR during SC and VR was 66.36% and 51.50%, respectively. Based on these data, the minimum recommended VO2max for FF to perform these occupational tasks at or below 75% VO2max was 37.16 ml kg-1 min-1. As such, 36.7% of our subjects failed to attain this VO2max. In the best interest of firefighters and public safety. we recommend biannual evaluation to determine VO2max of a FF. and for that to serve as a basis for a safe and effective exercise program. Physical performance testing limited to the onset of hire is not in the best interest of the FF. Both performance testing and regular exercise participation should be a regular and integral part of the FF's job.

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