Repeat work bouts increase thermal strain for Australian firefighters working in the heat

Anthony Walker, Christos Argus, Matthew Driller, Ben Rattray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Firefighters regularly re-enter fire scenes during long duration emergency events with limited rest between work bouts. It is unclear whether this practice is impacting on the safety of firefighters. Objectives: To evaluate the effects of multiple work bouts on firefighter physiology, strength, and cognitive performance when working in the heat. Methods: Seventy-seven urban firefighters completed two 20-minute simulated search and rescue tasks in a heat chamber (105±5°C), separated by a 10-minute passive recovery. Core and skin temperature, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), thermal sensation (TS), grip strength, and cognitive changes between simulations were evaluated. Results: Significant increases in core temperature and perceptual responses along with declines in strength were observed following the second simulation. No differences for other measures were observed. Conclusions: A significant increase in thermal strain was observed when firefighters re-entered a hot working environment. We recommend that longer recovery periods or active cooling methods be employed prior to re-entry.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-293
    Number of pages9
    JournalInternational Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2015


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