Immune and inflammatory responses of Australian firefighters after repeated exposures to the heat

Anthony Walker, Toby Keene, Christos Argus, Matthew Driller, Joshua H. Guy, Ben Rattray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


When firefighters work in hot conditions, altered immune and inflammatory responses may increase the risk of a cardiac event. The present study aimed to establish the time course of such responses. Forty-two urban firefighters completed a repeat work protocol in a heat chamber (100 ± 58°C). Changes to leukocytes, platelets, TNFα, IL-6, IL-10, LPS and CRP were evaluated immediately post-work and also after 1 and 24 h of rest. Increases in core temperatures were associated with significant increases in leukocytes, platelets and TNFα directly following work. Further, platelets continued to increase at 1h (+31.2 ± 31.3 × 10 9 l, p , 0.01) and remained elevated at 24 h (+15.9 ± 19.6 × 10 9 l, p < 0.01). Sustained increases in leukocytes and platelets may increase the risk of cardiac events in firefighters when performing repeat work tasks in the heat. This is particularly relevant during multi-day deployments following natural disasters. Practitioner Summary: Firefighters regularly re-enter fire affected buildings or are redeployed to further operational tasks. Should work in the heat lead to sustained immune and inflammatory changes following extended rest periods, incident controllers should plan appropriate work/rest cycles to minimise these changes and any subsequent risks of cardiac events

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2032-2039
Number of pages8
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2015


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