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Physical and Physiological Performance Determinants of a Firefighting Simulation Test

Siddall, Andrew G., PhD; Stevenson, Richard D.M., PhD; Turner, Philip J.F., MSc; Bilzon, James L.J., PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2018 - Volume 60 - Issue 7 - p 637–643
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001313

Objective: To examine determinants of firefighting simulation test performance.

Methods: Sixty-eight (63 male; 5 female) firefighters completed a firefighting simulation (eg, equipment carry, casualty evacuation) previously validated to test occupational fitness among UK firefighters. Multiple linear regression methods were used to determine physiological and physical attributes that best predicted completion time.

Results: Mean (±SD) time taken to complete the simulation was 610 (±79) seconds. The prediction model combining absolute cardiorespiratory capacity (L min−1) and fat mass explained the greatest variance in performance and elicited the least random error (R = 0.765, R2 = 0.585, standard error of the estimate [SEE]: ±52 seconds). Higher fitness and lower fat mass were associated with faster performance.

Conclusions: Firefighter simulation test performance is associated with absolute cardiorespiratory fitness and fat mass. Fitter and leaner individuals perform the task more quickly. Work-based interventions should enhance these attributes to promote safe and effective operational performance.

Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath (Dr Siddall, Dr Stevenson, Mr Turner, Dr Bilzon); Occupational Performance Research Group, University of Chichester, Chichester (Dr Siddall); Occupational Health Services, South Wales Fire & Rescue Service, Cardiff, Wales (Dr Stevenson); Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service, Preston, Lancashire (Mr Turner), England, United Kingdom.

Address correspondence to: Prof James L.J. Bilzon, PhD, Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kindom (

Funding: This work was jointly funded by the Chief Fire Officer's Association, the FireFit Steering Group, and the Fire Service Research and Training Trust (Project Code RE-FH1085).

The authors express no conflict of interest.

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Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine