Assessing the Cardiovascular and Chemical Risks Faced by Firefighters

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Discusses Firefighter Thermal Responses to Firefighting Activities in Residential Structure Fires

Fire Safety
July 15, 2019

Cover of journal article

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FSRI) Director Stephen Kerber and Research Engineer Gavin Horn co-authored a peer-reviewed journal article along fellow researchers that was published in Ergonomics. The "Thermal Response to Firefighting Activities in Residential Structure Fires: Impact of Job Assignment and Suppression Tactic" focuses on research results from the Cardiovascular & Chemical Exposure Risks in Modern Firefighting study. 

Heat stress is one of the most common challenges that firefighters routinely encounter. Due to strenuous work while wearing heavy, insulating personal protective equipment (PPE), a rise in body temperature almost always accompanies firefighting activity.

When responding to modern residential structure fires, the thermal impacts – from the environment to the firefighters’ core temperature – can be effected by both their job assignment and suppression tactic in many different ways. 

This study expanded upon previous research on thermal responses of firefighters by:

  • characterizing the thermal environment in which firefighters operate in modern residential fires with realistic fuel loads
  • documenting the temperatures encountered by firefighters in different job assignments
  • evaluating core and skin temperature changes experienced by firefighters assigned to different job assignments
  • investigating the effect of firefighting tactic on the environmental conditions encountered and temperature responses of firefighters

The research for this study was funded by U.S Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency grants. Research was conducted by UL FSRI, IFSI Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Skidmore College.

Access the article here