Effect of Protective Equipment on Firefighters' External and Internal Workloads During a Simulated Rescue Intervention
Marcel-Millet, Philémon; Ravier, Gilles; Groslambert, Alain
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: August 2022 - Volume 36 - Issue 8 - p 2291-2297, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000003551
The extent of firefighter protective equipment can cause psycho-physiological stress during rescue situations. This study tested the relationships and compare different workload methods to single out 3 firefighter protective equipment conditions based on simulated rescue intervention.
The protective equipment was:
1. Personal protective clothing (PPC-only).
2. PPC and a self‐contained breathing apparatus, including a cylinder, full‐face piece, and a breathing regulator (PPC-SCBA+).
3. PPC and only the cylinder of the SCBA (PPC-C).
Workload was determined using methods based on:
1. Heart rate (HR).
2. Perceived exertion (PE).
3. Acceleration (ACC).
4. An indirect method based on postexercise HR variability.
Differences between conditions were analyzed with repeated-measures analyses of variance. Relationships between workload methods were determined using Pearson's correlations. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05.
The HR-based and PE methods showed higher values in the PPC-SCBA+ and PPC-C conditions as compared to the PPC-only condition.
Only the PE method had a higher workload for the PPC-SCBA+ condition as compared to the PPC-C condition.
ACC-based workloads were lower in the PPC-SCBA+ and PPC-C conditions as compared to the PPC condition.
The indirect method revealed no difference between the 3 conditions.
Significant relationships were observed between the HR-based and PE methods.
Inverse significant correlations were observed between the HR-based and PE methods and the acceleration workload methods.
Although HR-based and PE methods might quantify the workloads, the PE method was more sensitive to discriminate between the PPC-C and PPC-SCBA+ conditions.
IN PLAIN ENGLISH:
The greater the amount of protective equipment worn by a firefighter 1) increases the heart rate, 2) decreases the ability to perform quickly, and 3) increases the perceived level of difficulty in performing a rescue task.