Research/studies Heat stress Workplace exposures Fire/emergency medical services

Does experience help older firefighters withstand heat stress?

Ottawa – Repeated exposure to heat stress on the job may cause experienced firefighters to become more tolerant to its effects, suggests a new study from the University of Ottawa.

For the study, 12 firefighters and 12 non-firefighters who were about 50 years old completed two exercise sessions in a hot environment. Although objective measurements showed similar levels of thermal and cardiovascular strain in the two groups, non-firefighters were quicker to report feeling strained, which suggests the firefighters were more resilient to heat. Their resilience may allow them to remain alert and work longer without having impaired mental or physical function, and thereby avoid injuries, researchers concluded.

The study was published in the December issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.