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ISSN: 2329-6879

Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs
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Research Article

Oxygen Uptake and Heart Rate during Simulated Wildfire Suppression Tasks Performed by Australian Rural Firefighters

Matthew Phillips1,2, Warren Payne3, Kevin Netto1,4, Shane Cramer5, David Nichols2,5, Glenn K McConell3, Cara Lord1,2 and Brad Aisbett2,6*

1School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Vic, Australia

2Bushfire Co-Operative Research Centre, East Melbourne, Vic, Australia

3Institute for Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Footscray, Vic, Australia

4School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Curtin University, Perth, Australia

5Country Fire Authority, Burwood East, Vic, Australia

6Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Burwood, Vic, Australia

*Corresponding Author:
Brad Aisbett
Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research
Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood, Vic, Australia 3125
Tel: +613 9244 6474
Fax: +613 9244 6017
E-mail: [email protected]

Received date: March 25, 2015; Accepted date: April 21, 2015; Published date: April 28, 2015

Citation: Phillips M, Payne W, Netto K, Cramer S, Nichols D, et al. (2015) Oxygen Uptake and Heart Rate during Simulated Wildfire Suppression Tasks Performed by Australian Rural Firefighters. Occup Med Health Aff 3:198. doi: 10.4172/2329-6879.1000198

Copyright: © 2015 Phillips, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Abstract

Objective: Australian rural fire crews safeguard the nation against the annual devastation of wildfire. We have previously reported that experienced firefighters identified seven physically demanding tasks for Australian rural fire crews suppressing wildfires. These firefighters rated the operational importance, typical duration, core fitness components, and likely frequency of the seven tasks. The intensity of these duties remains unknown. The aim of this study was to quantify the oxygen uptake (VO2), heart rate (HR) and movement speed responses during simulations of these physically demanding wildfire suppression tasks.

Method: Twenty six rural firefighters (20 men, six women) performed up to seven tasks, during which time their HR and movement speed were recorded. The VO2 for each task was also calculated from the analysis of expired air collected in Douglas bags. Firefighters’ HR and movement speed were measured using HR monitors and portable global positioning system units, respectively.

Results: The hose work tasks elicited a VO2 of 21-27 mL·kg-1·min-1 and peak HR of 77-87% age-predicted maximal HR (HRmax). Hand tool tasks were accompanied by VO2 of 28-34 mL·kg-1·min-1 and peak HR of 85-95%HRmax. Firefighters’ movement speed spanned 0.2 ± 0.1 to 1.8 ± 0.2 m·s-1 across the seven tasks. The cardiovascular responses in the hand tool tasks were, in most cases, higher (P<0.05) than during those elicited by the hose work tasks.

Conclusions: The cardiovascular responses elicited during simulations of physically demanding wildfire suppression approximated those reported for similar tasks in urban and forestry fire fighting jurisdictions. The findings may prompt Australian rural fire agencies to consider cardiovascular disease risk screening and physical selection testing to ensure that healthy and fit firefighters are deployed to the fire ground.

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