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The Influence of Body Mass on Physical Fitness Test Performance in Male Firefighter Applicants

Phillips, Devin B. MSc; Scarlett, Michael P. MSc; Petersen, Stewart R. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2017 - Volume 59 - Issue 11 - p 1101–1108
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001145
Original Articles

Objective: The influence of body mass on test performance was investigated in 414 male firefighter applicants who completed a maximal treadmill test and five task-simulation tests while dressed in fire protective ensemble.

Methods: Subjects were assigned to six mass categories from less than 70 kg to more than 110 kg, in 10 kg increments (n = 69 in each).

Results: Treadmill performance was lower (P < 0.05) in the two heaviest groups. Charged hose advance time was slower in the two lightest groups. The lightest group had slower times for weighted sled pull, forcible entry, and victim rescue tests. The heaviest group was slower on the ladder climb test.

Conclusion: Lighter subjects had a small advantage in endurance-oriented tests while higher mass appeared to improve performance slightly in strength-oriented tests. However, mass explained only 4% to 19% of the variance in performance.

Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H9, Canada.

Address correspondence to: Devin B. Phillips, MSc, 4-416D Van Vliet Complex, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H9, Canada (

Funding Source: No research grant to support the work.

Conflicts of Interest: There are no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2017 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine