Firefighting places a tremendous amount of physical stress on the body. The primary cause of premature departure from the fire service is cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal injury. Average heart rate responses during fire suppression tasks have been found to be between 157±8 bpm to 176±9 bpm which represents 88±6% to 95±5% of maximum heart rate. Participating in a regular exercise program has been associated with improvements in cardiovascular fitness and overall health. Designing and implementing the most effective exercise program to improve and maintain fitness levels in firefighters is imperative. In order to assess needs which would dictate an optimal program for firefighting heart rates were collected during a live burn on fourteen firefighters. Seven males and six females (mean age of 29.46 ± 4.2 years) participated in this study. Heart rates were collected using a Polar Electro heart rate telemetry device. Heart rate response was assessed during a live burn as a means of determining the work/rest duty cycle involved in fire suppression. The results indicate that firefighting is an interval activity with a specific work/rest duty cycle attached to each task. The mean heart rate and standard deviation for each task is indicated below: (Table)
These findings support the hypothesis that an interval type training program would better fit the needs of the firefighter than a continuous endurance type training program. The program should consist of both cardiovascular and strength training components since the demands of firefighting depend largely on an increased aerobic work capacity, effective recovery, and muscular strength.
American College of Sports Medicine; 46th Annual Meeting; Washington State; Convention & Trade Center; June 2-5, 1999
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G-38 POSTER OCCUPA PHYSIOLOGY & MED