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The impact of various rehydration volumes for firefighters wearing protective clothing in warm environments

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This study examined different fluid replacement quantities during intermittent work while wearing firefighting protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus in the heat (35°C, 50% relative humidity). Twelve firefighters walked at 4.5 km per h with 0% elevation on an intermittent work (50 min) and rest (30 min) schedule until they reached a rectal temperature of 39.5°C during work periods and 40.0°C during rest, heart rates of 95% of maximum and/or exhaustion. During the heat-stress trials subjects received one of four fluid replacement quantities, high (H), moderate (M), low (L), and no hydration (NH), where H, M and L represented 78%, 63% and 37% of fluid loss, respectively. The total tolerance time (work + rest) was significantly greater during H (111.8 ± 3.5), M (112.9 ± 5.2) and L (104.2 ± 5.8) compared to NH (95.3 ± 3.8). In addition, work time (min), which excluded rest periods, was significantly greater in H (82.6 ± 3.5), and M (82.9 ± 5.2) compared to NH (65.3 ± 3.8). It is concluded that incorporating even partial fluid replacement strategies while wearing firefighting protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus in the heat improves tolerance time.
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Keywords: Exercise tolerance; Fluid replacement; Metabolic rate; Rectal temperature; Uncompensable heat stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Operational Medicine Section, Defence R&D Canada – Toronto, 1133 Sheppard Avenue West, P.O. Box 2000, Toronto, Ontario, M3M 3B9, Canada 2: Faculty of Physical Education and Health, Exercise Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2W6, Canada

Publication date: March 15, 2006

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