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Firefighters' physical work capacity
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Sports Medicine.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2339-6381
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Brandmäns fysiska arbetskapacitet (Swedish)
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 [en]
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: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88729ISBN: 978-91-7601-054-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-88729DiVA: diva2:719114
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
List of papers
1. Self-rated physical loads of work tasks among firefighters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Self-rated physical loads of work tasks among firefighters
2014 (English)In: International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, ISSN 1080-3548, E-ISSN 2376-9130, Vol. 20, no 2, 309-321 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objectives: The present study sought to identify firefighters' rated physical demands for the most frequently occuring work tasks and to determine if the ratings differed between full-time and part-time firefighters to help create a basis for the development of physical employment tests for firefighters.

Methods: An extensive questionnaire was completed by 125 and 68 firefighters in 2000 and 2010, respectively. The data were analysed with the Mann-Whitney U test and binominal test and ranked on the basis of the responses in each category.

Results: Significant differences were seen between the full-time and part-time firefighters. The work tasks rated as the most physically strenous in terms of aerobic fitness, muscle strength, work posture and body control by most responders were smoke diving upstairs (carrying a hose), victim rescue in different ways, carrying a stretcher over terrain and pulling a hose.

Conclusions: Physically strenous work tasks should be included in the end-point performance variables used to select physical performance tests for firefighters. The part-time firefighters with no experience in several of the work tasks suggests that work-related exercises are important if both groups of firefighters are expected to do similar work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon: Taylor & Francis, 2014
Keyword
emergency personnel, ergonomics, physical demand, performance, tests
National Category
Physiotherapy Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88433 (URN)10.1080/10803548.2014.11077042 (DOI)000338268100011 ()24934427 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2014-05-06 Created: 2014-05-06 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
2. Field tests for evaluating the aerobic work capacity of firefighters
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Field tests for evaluating the aerobic work capacity of firefighters
2013 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 8, no 7, e68047- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Working as a firefighter is physically strenuous, and a high level of physical fitness increases a firefighter's ability to cope with the physical stress of their profession. Direct measurements of aerobic capacity, however, are often complicated, time consuming, and expensive. The first aim of the present study was to evaluate the correlations between direct (laboratory) and indirect (field) aerobic capacity tests with common and physically demanding firefighting tasks. The second aim was to give recommendations as to which field tests may be the most useful for evaluating firefighters' aerobic work capacity. A total of 38 subjects (26 men and 12 women) were included. Two aerobic capacity tests, six field tests, and seven firefighting tasks were performed. Lactate threshold and onset of blood lactate accumulation were found to be correlated to the performance of one work task (rs = -0.65 and -0.63, p<0.01, respectively). Absolute (mL·min(-1)) and relative (mL·kg(-1)·min(-1)) maximal aerobic capacity was correlated to all but one of the work tasks (rs = -0.79 to 0.55 and -0.74 to 0.47, p<0.01, respectively). Aerobic capacity is important for firefighters' work performance, and we have concluded that the time to row 500 m, the time to run 3000 m relative to body weight (s·kg(-1)), and the percent of maximal heart rate achieved during treadmill walking are the most valid field tests for evaluating a firefighter's aerobic work capacity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science, 2013
Keyword
contained breathing apparatus; maximal oxygen-uptake; physiological demands; fire-fighters; physical demands; ability test; performance; responses; exercise; tasks
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79206 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0068047 (DOI)000321341000133 ()23844153 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2013-08-13 Created: 2013-08-13 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Laboratory or field tests for evaluating firefighters' work capacity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Laboratory or field tests for evaluating firefighters' work capacity
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
Keyword
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:nbn:se:umu:diva-86901 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0091215 (DOI)000332839300097 ()24614596 (PubMedID)
Available from: 2014-03-13 Created: 2014-03-13 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. Multivariate statistical assessment of predictors of firefighters' muscular and aerobic work capacity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Multivariate statistical assessment of predictors of firefighters' muscular and aerobic work capacity
Show others...
(English)Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Keyword
Job performance, physical fitness, workload, physical standards, muscle force, aerobic capacity, SIMCA
National Category
Sport and Fitness Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-88727 (URN)
Available from: 2014-05-13 Created: 2014-05-13 Last updated: 2014-05-23Bibliographically approved

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