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Laboratory or field tests for evaluating firefighters' work capacity
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Sports Medicine. Winternet, Boden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2339-6381
Physical Work Capacity Team, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu, Finland.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Sports Medicine.
2014 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 9, no 3, e91215- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Muscle strength is important for firefighters work capacity. Laboratory tests used for measurements of muscle strength, however, are complicated, expensive and time consuming. The aims of the present study were to investigate correlations between physical capacity within commonly occurring and physically demanding firefighting work tasks and both laboratory and field tests in full time (N = 8) and part-time (N = 10) male firefighters and civilian men (N = 8) and women (N = 12), and also to give recommendations as to which field tests might be useful for evaluating firefighters' physical work capacity. Laboratory tests of isokinetic maximal (IM) and endurance (IE) muscle power and dynamic balance, field tests including maximal and endurance muscle performance, and simulated firefighting work tasks were performed. Correlations with work capacity were analyzed with Spearman's rank correlation coefficient (rs). The highest significant (p<0.01) correlations with laboratory and field tests were for Cutting: IE trunk extension (rs = 0.72) and maximal hand grip strength (rs = 0.67), for Stairs: IE shoulder flexion (rs = −0.81) and barbell shoulder press (rs = −0.77), for Pulling: IE shoulder extension (rs= −0.82) and bench press (rs = −0.85), for Demolition: IE knee extension (rs = 0.75) and bench press (rs = 0.83), for Rescue: IE shoulder flexion (rs = −0.83) and bench press (rs = −0.82), and for the Terrain work task: IE trunk flexion (rs = −0.58) and upright barbell row (rs = −0.70). In conclusion, field tests may be used instead of laboratory tests. Maximal hand grip strength, bench press, chin ups, dips, upright barbell row, standing broad jump, and barbell shoulder press were strongly correlated (rs≥0.7) with work capacity and are therefore recommended for evaluating firefighters work capacity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science , 2014. Vol. 9, no 3, e91215- p.
Keyword [en]
contained breathing apparatus; physically demanding tasks; physiological demands; muscle strength; ability test; performance; fitness; fire; responses; gender
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-86901DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091215ISI: 000332839300097PubMedID: 24614596OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-86901DiVA: diva2:704662
Available from: 2014-03-13 Created: 2014-03-13 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Firefighters' physical work capacity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Firefighters' physical work capacity
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Brandmäns fysiska arbetskapacitet
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of this thesis was to identify valid, simple, and inexpensive physical tests that can be used for evaluation of firefighters’ physical work capacity. Paper I included fulltime- and part-time firefighters (n = 193), aged 20-60 years. Perceived physical demands of firefighting work tasks were ranked, and comparisons between subject groups rating were done with the Mann Whitney U-test and Binominal test. Papers II and III included male firefighters and civilian men and women (n = 38), aged 24-57 years. Laboratory and field tests of aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance, balance, and simulated firefighting work tasks were performed. Physical capacity comparisons between subject groups were done and bivariate correlations between physical tests and work capacity in the simulated firefighting work tasks analyzed. Paper IV included the same subjects as in Paper II-III (training-set), and additional 90 subjects (prediction-set), aged 20-50 years. Laboratory and field tests of aerobic fitness, muscle strength and endurance and balance, and simulated firefighting work tasks were included. Data from the training-set was used to build models for prediction of firefighters’ physical work capacity, using multivariate statistic. The prediction-set was used to externally validate the selected models. Several work tasks were rated as physically demanding and significant differences (p < 0.05) in ratings were found between full-time and part-time firefighters (Paper I). Significant differences were found between subject groups in physical capacity, and work capacity (p < 0.01) (Paper II-IV). Both laboratory and field tests were significantly (p < 0.01) correlated with work capacity time (Paper II-III). The prediction (R2) and predictive power (Q2) of firefighters’ work capacity (Carrying hose baskets upstairs, Hose pulling, Demolition at or after a fire, Victim rescue, and Carrying hose baskets over terrain) was R2 = 0.74 to 0.91, and Q2 = 0.65 to 0.85, and the external validation ranged between R2: 0.38 to 0.80 (Paper IV).

In conclusion, rowing 500 m (s), maximal handgrip strength (kg), endurance bench press (n), running 3000 m (s and s scaled to body weight) upright barbell row (n) and standing broad jump (m) together provides valid information about firefighters’ physical work capacity. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå Universitet, 2014. 67 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1652
Keyword
Physical demands, performance, work capacity, aerobic fitness, anaerobic fitness, muscle strength, muscle endurance, balance, ergonomics, physical testing, SIMCA
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88729 (URN)978-91-7601-054-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-06-13, Biologihuset, Rum A 201, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-05-23 Created: 2014-05-13 Last updated: 2014-05-23Bibliographically approved

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