The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of long work shifts and turnout gear, including the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) on firefighters’ postural stability.
Sixteen firefighters were assessed using a portable forceplate system at the fire station. Postural sway parameters were recorded at the beginning of the work shift and repeated until the work shift ended.
Task had the greatest impact on postural stability for all sway parameters. Turnout gear, with and without SCBA, improved postural stability. Postural stability decreased as firefighters spent more time on duty.
Prolonged work shifts may be an important contributor to the high prevalence of slips and falls among firefighters. In all, the results indicate that many aspects of the firefighters’ job may adversely impact their postural stability and potentially increase the risk of falling.