Immune and inflammatory responses of Australian firefighters after repeated exposures to the heat Academic Article uri icon


  • When firefighters work in hot conditions, altered immune and inflammatory responses may increase the risk of a cardiac event. The present study aimed to establish the time course of such responses. Forty-two urban firefighters completed a repeat work protocol in a heat chamber (100 ± 5°C). Changes to leukocytes, platelets, TNFα, IL-6, IL-10, LPS and CRP were evaluated immediately post-work and also after 1 and 24 h of rest. Increases in core temperatures were associated with significant increases in leukocytes, platelets and TNFα directly following work. Further, platelets continued to increase at 1 h (+31.2 ± 31.3 × 109 l, p < 0.01) and remained elevated at 24 h (+15.9 ± 19.6 × 109 l, p < 0.01). Sustained increases in leukocytes and platelets may increase the risk of cardiac events in firefighters when performing repeat work tasks in the heat. This is particularly relevant during multi-day deployments following natural disasters. Practitioner Summary: Firefighters regularly re-enter fire affected buildings or are redeployed to further operational tasks. Should work in the heat lead to sustained immune and inflammatory changes following extended rest periods, incident controllers should plan appropriate work/rest cycles to minimise these changes and any subsequent risks of cardiac events.

publication date

  • 2015

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