Master of Science (MSc)
Faculty of Science
Firefighters require a high level of physical fitness in order to meet the demands of their profession. While physical fitness testing is required to join the department, firefighters are not subject to further formal exercise testing throughout the duration of their careers. Active, career firefighters were tested on a variety of physical fitness measures related to body composition, strength, power, and endurance over three testing sessions. 49 firefighters (40.5 ± 8.3 yr, 89.5 ± 13.0 kg, 27.8 ± 3.6 kg/m2) were found to have a resting heart rate of 57.7 ± 8.2 bpm, blood pressure of 121.5 ± 11.9/71.5 ± 9.9 mmHg, and 24.2 ± 5.4 % body fat, culminating in 7.6 ± 6.8 points in the CPAFLA Healthy Body Composition Score. They performed 31.4 ± 11.6 pushups and scored 15.6 ± 1.6 on the 21-point Functional Movement Screen. A subset of participants also completed the Wingate Anaerobic Test, producing 10.6 ± 1.1 W/kg at peak revolutions and averaging 7.4 ± 1.0 W/kg of power with a fatigue index of 49.7 ± 8.7% over the test duration. Maximum strength, as measured by torque produced in a 60°/s isotonic, concentric contraction was 3.0 ± 0.7 Nm/kg for the quadriceps and 1.0 ± 0.1 Nm/kg for the bicep. Measures of core torso strength included the 60° abdominal endurance test (153.8 ± 94.2 s) and Biering-Sorensen test (113.4 ± 48.6 s) for back extensor endurance. Vertical jump was found to be 50.0 ± 9.6 cm. VO2 max was 42.2 ± 6.5 ml O2/kg/min while VO2 at the anaerobic threshold was 33.3 ± 8.2 ml O2/kg/min. Many of the measurements taken displayed large ranges and though many firefighters performed above-average, there were a number who did not. The contrast between the highest and lowest performers for many measures suggests that there may be a small, but significant, portion of the population that do not possess the requisite fitness to optimally perform their job responsibilities. This is cause for concern and may be mitigated by implementation of mandatory training and testing programs. Previous studies examining firefighter fitness have often used a young sample with little experience and fragmented testing while this report assessed greater numbers of senior firefighters and performed a more comprehensive range of testing. This is the first report of firefighter performance on Wingate tests, upper- and lower-body peak torque characteristics, and other performance and body composition characteristics. This data along with the other fitness measures assessed in this study will provide comprehensive baseline data to inform development of fitness training and maintenance protocols for active firefighters.
Antolini, Michael R., "Physical fitness characteristics of an active firefighter population serving an urban area" (2014). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 1684.