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Effect of wearing personal protective clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus on heart rate, temperature and oxygen consumption during stepping exercise and live fire training exercises

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Fire fighter breathing apparatus instructors (BAIs) must possess the ability to respond to both the extrinsic stress of a high temperature environment and the intrinsic stress from wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), repeatedly and regularly, whilst training recruits in live fire training exercises (LFTEs). There are few previous investigations on BAIs in hot environments such as LFTEs, since the main research focus has been on regular fire fighters undertaking exercises in temperate or fire conditions at a moderate to high exercise intensity. In this study, the intrinsic cardiovascular stress effects of wearing PPE + SCBA were first investigated using a step test whilst wearing gym kit (control), weighted gym kit (a rucksack weighted to the equivalent of PPE + SCBA) and full PPE + SCBA (weight plus the effects of protective clothing). The extrinsic effects of the very hot environment were investigated in BIAs in LFTEs compared to mock fire training exercises (MFTEs), where the fire was not ignited. There was an increase in heart rate due to the modest workload imposed on the BAIs through carrying out the MFTEs (25.0 (18.7)%) compared to resting. However, when exposed to fire during the LFTEs, heat storage appears to be significant as the heart rate increased by up to 39.8 (±20.1)% over that of the mock LFTEs at temperate conditions. Thus, being able to dissipate heat from the PPE is particularly important in reducing the cardiovascular responses for BAIs during LFTEs.
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Keywords: Exercise; Instructors; Oxygen cost; Protective clothing; Training

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2007

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