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Field tests for evaluating the aerobic work capacity of firefighters
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Sports Medicine.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2339-6381
Physical Work Capacity-team, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland.
Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Karolinska Institute.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Sports Medicine.
2013 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 8, no 7, e68047- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Working as a firefighter is physically strenuous, and a high level of physical fitness increases a firefighter's ability to cope with the physical stress of their profession. Direct measurements of aerobic capacity, however, are often complicated, time consuming, and expensive. The first aim of the present study was to evaluate the correlations between direct (laboratory) and indirect (field) aerobic capacity tests with common and physically demanding firefighting tasks. The second aim was to give recommendations as to which field tests may be the most useful for evaluating firefighters' aerobic work capacity. A total of 38 subjects (26 men and 12 women) were included. Two aerobic capacity tests, six field tests, and seven firefighting tasks were performed. Lactate threshold and onset of blood lactate accumulation were found to be correlated to the performance of one work task (rs = -0.65 and -0.63, p<0.01, respectively). Absolute (mL·min(-1)) and relative (mL·kg(-1)·min(-1)) maximal aerobic capacity was correlated to all but one of the work tasks (rs = -0.79 to 0.55 and -0.74 to 0.47, p<0.01, respectively). Aerobic capacity is important for firefighters' work performance, and we have concluded that the time to row 500 m, the time to run 3000 m relative to body weight (s·kg(-1)), and the percent of maximal heart rate achieved during treadmill walking are the most valid field tests for evaluating a firefighter's aerobic work capacity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science , 2013. Vol. 8, no 7, e68047- p.
Keyword [en]
contained breathing apparatus; maximal oxygen-uptake; physiological demands; fire-fighters; physical demands; ability test; performance; responses; exercise; tasks
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79206DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068047ISI: 000321341000133PubMedID: 23844153OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-79206DiVA: diva2:640258
Available from: 2013-08-13 Created: 2013-08-13 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Firefighters' physical work capacity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Firefighters' physical work capacity
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Brandmäns fysiska arbetskapacitet
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis was to identify valid, simple, and inexpensive physical tests that can be used for evaluation of firefighters’ physical work capacity. Paper I included fulltime- and part-time firefighters (n = 193), aged 20-60 years. Perceived physical demands of firefighting work tasks were ranked, and comparisons between subject groups rating were done with the Mann Whitney U-test and Binominal test. Papers II and III included male firefighters and civilian men and women (n = 38), aged 24-57 years. Laboratory and field tests of aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance, balance, and simulated firefighting work tasks were performed. Physical capacity comparisons between subject groups were done and bivariate correlations between physical tests and work capacity in the simulated firefighting work tasks analyzed. Paper IV included the same subjects as in Paper II-III (training-set), and additional 90 subjects (prediction-set), aged 20-50 years. Laboratory and field tests of aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance and balance, and simulated firefighting work tasks were included. Data from the training-set was used to build models for prediction of firefighters’ physical work capacity, using multivariate statistic. The prediction-set was used to externally validate the selected models. Several work tasks were rated as physically demanding and significant differences (p < 0.05) in ratings were found between full-time and part-time firefighters (Paper I). Significant differences were found between subject groups in physical capacity, and work capacity (p < 0.01) (Paper II-IV). Both laboratory and field tests were significantly (p < 0.01) correlated with work capacity time (Paper II-III). The prediction (R2) and predictive power (Q2) of firefighters’ work capacity (Carrying hose baskets upstairs, Hose pulling, Demolition at or after a fire, Victim rescue, and Carrying hose baskets over terrain) was R2 = 0.74 to 0.91, and Q2 = 0.65 to 0.85, and the external validation ranged between R2: 0.38 to 0.80 (Paper IV).

In conclusion, rowing 500 m (s), maximal handgrip strength (kg), endurance bench press (n), running 3000 m (s and s scaled to body weight) upright barbell row (n) and standing broad jump (m) together provides valid information about firefighters’ physical work capacity. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2014. 67 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1652
Keyword
Physical demands, performance, work capacity, aerobic fitness, anaerobic fitness, muscle strength, muscle endurance, balance, ergonomics, physical testing, SIMCA
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88729 (URN)978-91-7601-054-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-06-13, Biologihuset, Rum A 201, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-23 Created: 2014-05-13 Last updated: 2014-05-23Bibliographically approved

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