The ageing Australian firefighter: An argument for age-based recruitment and fitness standards for urban fire services
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Currently, there is no enforcement of physical standards within Australian fire services post-recruitment, possibly leading to inappropriate fitness and body composition. This study evaluated the impacts of ageing on physical standards of Australian firefighters. Seventy-three firefighters from three different 10-year age groups [25-34 years (n = 27), 35-44 years (n = 27), 45-54 years (n = 19)] volunteered for physical testing using dual-energy X-ray analysis and existing fitness tests used for recruitment by an Australian fire service. Older (45-54 years) participants demonstrated significantly poorer physical standards compared with younger participants including cardiovascular fitness (p < 0.05), strength (p = 0.001) and simulated operational power testing tasks (p < 0.001). Age-related body composition changes were also observed independent of body mass index. Minimum recruitment standards and fitness programs need to account for age-related declines in physical capabilities to ensure that the minimum standard is maintained regardless of age.Practitioner Summary: Using dual-energy X-ray analysis and established fitness testing protocols, this study aimed to gain an appreciation of the current standards of body composition and fitness of Australian firefighters and the effects of ageing on their physical abilities post-recruitment. The study demonstrated a significant decline in physical standards due to age. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
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