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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(2), 180;

The Impact of Heat Exposure and Sleep Restriction on Firefighters’ Work Performance and Physiology during Simulated Wildfire Suppression

Appleton Institute, School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, Central Queensland University, Wayville 5034, Australia
School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Geelong 3220, Australia
Bushfire Co-Operative Research Centre, East Melbourne 3002, Australia
Griffith Sports Physiology, School of Allied Health Sciences, Griffith University, Southport 4215, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Received: 20 December 2016 / Revised: 5 February 2017 / Accepted: 6 February 2017 / Published: 12 February 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Global Health)
Full-Text   |   PDF [755 KB, uploaded 12 February 2017]   |  


This study was designed to examine the effects of ambient heat on firefighters’ physical task performance, and physiological and perceptual responses when sleep restricted during simulated wildfire conditions. Thirty firefighters were randomly allocated to the sleep restricted (n = 17, SR; 19 °C, 4-h sleep opportunity) or hot and sleep restricted (n = 13, HOT + SR; 33 °C, 4-h sleep opportunity) condition. Firefighters performed two days of simulated, intermittent, self-paced work circuits comprising six firefighting tasks. Heart rate, and core temperature were measured continuously. After each task, firefighters reported their rating of perceived exertion and thermal sensation. Effort sensation was also reported after each work circuit. Fluids were consumed ad libitum. Urine volume and urine specific gravity were analysed. Sleep was monitored using polysomnography. There were no differences between the SR and HOT + SR groups in firefighters’ physiological responses, hydration status, ratings of perceived exertion, motivation, and four of the six firefighting tasks (charged hose advance, rake, hose rolling, static hose hold). Black out hose and lateral repositioning were adversely affected in the HOT + SR group. Working in hot conditions did not appear to consistently impair firefighters work performance, physiology, and perceptual responses. Future research should determine whether such findings remain true when individual tasks are performed over longer durations. View Full-Text
Keywords: firefighting; sleep restriction; physical performance; work physiology firefighting; sleep restriction; physical performance; work physiology

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Vincent, G.E.; Aisbett, B.; Larsen, B.; Ridgers, N.D.; Snow, R.; Ferguson, S.A. The Impact of Heat Exposure and Sleep Restriction on Firefighters’ Work Performance and Physiology during Simulated Wildfire Suppression. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 180.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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