Repeat work bouts increase thermal strain for Australian firefighters working in the heat Academic Article uri icon


  • Firefighters regularly re-enter fire scenes during long duration emergency events with limited rest between work bouts. It is unclear whether this practice is impacting on the safety of firefighters.To evaluate the effects of multiple work bouts on firefighter physiology, strength, and cognitive performance when working in the heat.Seventy-seven urban firefighters completed two 20-minute simulated search and rescue tasks in a heat chamber (105 ± 5°C), separated by a 10-minute passive recovery. Core and skin temperature, rate of perceived exertion (RPE), thermal sensation (TS), grip strength, and cognitive changes between simulations were evaluated.Significant increases in core temperature and perceptual responses along with declines in strength were observed following the second simulation. No differences for other measures were observed.A significant increase in thermal strain was observed when firefighters re-entered a hot working environment. We recommend that longer recovery periods or active cooling methods be employed prior to re-entry.

publication date

  • 2015