The acute effect of training fire exercises on fire service instructors

Emily R. Watkins, Mark Hayes, Peter Watt, Alan J. Richardson

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Fire service instructors (FSI) regularly experience different types of fire exercises, however the strain experienced from these scenarios is not well understood. This study aims to identify the physiological and perceptual strain of Fire Service Instructors (FSI) to three training exercises: DEMO, ATTACK, COMPARTMENT, and the different roles performed: SETTER, INSTRUCTOR. The study also aims to assess the effect that different exercise patterns over a day (BOX, MULTI, COMBINATION) have on immunological responses. Sixteen FSI (age: 41 ± 8 years, body mass: 83.7 ± 6.7 kg, height: 177.0 ± 6.7 cm) were recruited, with 10 FSI completing the three exercises. Physiological and perceptual measures were collected prior to and immediately post each exercise. Venous blood samples were collected at the beginning and end of each day. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) were conducted to assess differences in physiological variables between exercise types, independent samples t-tests were conducted between roles. Day changes in hematological variables were assessed by paired sample t-tests and analyzed by one-way ANOVAs to identify differences between exercise patterns. The COMPARTMENT exercise resulted in a greater change in rectal temperature (ΔTre) (0.49 ± 0.28 °C) than both the DEMO (0.23 ± 0.19 °C, p = 0.045) and ATTACK (0.27 ± 0.22 °C, p = 0.016). Within the COMPARTMENT exercise, the SETTER resulted in a greater ΔTre and rating of perceived exertion than the INSTRUCTOR (0.67 ± 0.29 °C vs. 0.43 ± 0.18 °C, p = 0.027 and 14 ± 2 vs. 11 ± 2, p = 0.001, respectively). Following a day of fire exercises white blood cells (WBC), neutrophils, lymphocytes (LYMPH), monocytes (MONO), platelets (PLT), mean platelet volume (MPV), Interleukin (IL)-6, and cardiac troponin T (cTnT) all increased (p < 0.05). Exercise patterns containing a COMPARTMENT exercise resulted in greater PLT, MPV, and IL-6. Total daily variation in ΔTre was correlated with post-exercise WBC, MONO, and LYMPH. COMPARTMENT exercises produce the greatest physiological strain, with the SETTER role within this exercise causing the greatest ΔTre. Although predominately physiological responses remain within safe limits. Exercise patterns that include a COMPARTMENT exercise also generate a greater inflammatory response.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene on 26/09/2018, available online:


  • Inflammation
  • occupational health
  • physiological strain


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