Psychophysiological responses in experienced firefighters undertaking repeated self-contained breathing apparatus tasks

In order to safely and effectively extinguish fires and rescue life, firefighters are required to routinely wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), yet little is known about the specific physiological and psychological demands associated with repeated exposure to tasks that require SCBA. A total of 12 experienced firefighters took part in a series of commonly encountered SCBA activities: free search, guideline search and live firefighting tasks under room temperature (∼20°C) and extreme heat (∼180°C) conditions to assess changes in heart rate, blood pressure, mood, perceived workload and air usage. Findings demonstrate that live firefighting is associated with greater perceived exhaustion than free search or guideline exercises; however, all tasks lead to high cardiovascular demand regardless of the presence of heat. No significant impact of task upon mood and no significant differences between the perceived demands of guideline, free search and live firefighting exercises were found.

Source: Young PM, Gibson AS, Partington E, Partington S, Wetherell MA. Ergonomics, 2014.

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