Research/studies Worker health and wellness Fire/emergency medical services

‘Ramp-up’ alarms can lower stress among firefighters: study

firefighter station

Photo: Jonathan Lesage/iStockphoto

Janesville, WI – Fire station alarms that gradually get louder can help reduce stress among firefighters, according to research from Mercy Health System’s Department of Emergency Medicine and Yale University School of Medicine.

During the study period, 42 firefighters assigned to three fire stations in an urban setting wore devices on their wrists that tracked their heart rate both when alarms were abrupt and loud, and when alarms gradually increased in volume.

Researchers found that the firefighters’ heart rates increased seven beats per minute on average during the abrupt, loud alarms. However, during the gradual alarms, their heart rates increased an average of only five beats per minute.

“Ramp-up tones were also perceived as the best alerting method to reduce stress during both the day and overnight,” researchers said. “This study suggests that the manner in which firefighters are alerted does have an influence on their physiologic response to the alarm.”

In 2013, 32 of the 97 deaths among firefighters in the line of duty were the result of stress, overexertion and associated medical issues, the study states.

The study was published online Sept. 8 in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

Post a comment to this article

Safety+Health welcomes comments that promote respectful dialogue. Please stay on topic. Comments that contain personal attacks, profanity or abusive language – or those aggressively promoting products or services – will be removed. We reserve the right to determine which comments violate our comment policy. (Anonymous comments are welcome; merely skip the “name” field in the comment box. An email address is required but will not be included with your comment.)