Firefighter health and safety

Members of the Fire Research Group from the University of Waterloo Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, undertake extensive research related to the health and safety of professional fire fighters. Their research areas include:

Physiological and biomechanical impact of hostile and physically demanding fire environment on firefighters

Firefighters are subject not only to extremely high temperatures during their normal working duties, but they are also under great physical duress. The Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and turnout gear significantly increase the physiological demands upon the firefighter. Using on campus laboratory facilities, as well as the environmental chamber, training tower and burn structure in the Live Fire Research Facility conditions similar to those encountered in real fire scenarios are created and a series of portable measurement devices allows investigation of the physiological strain on a firefighter in a realistic occupational environment. This strain is determined in terms of heart rate, metabolic cost and body temperature load. Results have then been compared to the development of new field operational procedures, as well as new physical testing standards for firefighters that incorporate realistic tasks under expected occupational conditions.

Rehabilitation and injury reduction for firefighters

Using their long-standing collaboration with the firefighting community, researchers monitor newly hired firefighters as they undergo comprehensive testing to document neurophysiology, strength and fitness, psychosocial and biomechanical characteristics. These are then monitored for many years, documenting incidences and development of injuries to identify potential occupationally-related injury mechanisms and develop appropriate measures and equipment by which to protect firefighting personnel.

Related information

Fire fighter physical testing conditions
Fire fighter research