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An Occupational-Specific O2max Protocol for Structural Firefighters

Dicks, Nathan D., MS; Lyman, Katie J., PhD; Hackney, Kyle J., PhD; Walch, Tanis J., PhD, MPH; Barry, Allison M., PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2019 - Volume 61 - Issue 5 - p 405–409
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001570

Objective: The aim of this study was to validate a

O2max protocol designed specifically for the occupational demands of firefighters by incorporating the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Methods: Career firefighters completed a stage-graded exercise test (GXT) with submaximal square-wave verification bout while wearing PPE (pants and boots) to determine

O2max. Using the self-reported Physical Activity-Rating (PA-R) scale and an estimated nonexercise regression equation of

O2max for comparison to measured.

Results: Twenty-eight male, career firefighters performed the GXT and square-wave bout.

O2 values (mean ± SD) from the GXT and the square-wave verification bout were 41.04 ± 6.98 and 39.74 ± 6.42 mL/kg/min, respectively (ICC = 0.98, typical error = 0.96 mL/kg/min, CV = 2.4%).

Conclusion: Our data suggest an incremental treadmill protocol that incorporates PPE and square-wave verification as an occupational-specific tool to measure cardiovascular fitness in firefighters.

Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota (Drs Dicks, Lyman, Hackney); Department of Education, Health & Behavior Studies, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota (Dr Walch); and Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas (Dr Barry).

Address correspondence to: Nathan D. Dicks, MS, NDSU Department 2620, P.O. Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 (

This work was supported by the Innovative Student Research Award from the Northland Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2019 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine