Firefighter feedback during active cooling: a useful tool for heat stress management?

Savage, Robbie J. and Lord, Cara and Larsen, Brianna L. and Knight, Teagan L. and Langridge, Peter D. and Aisbett, Brad (2014) Firefighter feedback during active cooling: a useful tool for heat stress management? Journal of Thermal Biology, 46. pp. 65-71. ISSN 0306-4565


Monitoring an individual's thermic state in the workplace requires reliable feedback of their core temperature. However, core temperature measurement technology is expensive, invasive and often impractical in operational environments, warranting investigation of surrogate measures which could be used to predict core temperature. This study examines an alternative measure of an individual's thermic state, thermal sensation, which presents a more manageable and practical solution for Australian firefighters operating on the fireground. Across three environmental conditions (cold, warm, hot & humid), 49 Australian volunteer firefighters performed a 20-min fire suppression activity, immediately followed by 20 min of active cooling using hand and forearm immersion techniques. Core temperature (Tc) and thermal sensation (TS) were measured across the rehabilitation period at five minute intervals. Despite the decline in Tc and TS throughout the rehabilitation period, there was little similarity in the magnitude or rate of decline between each measure in any of the ambient conditions. Moderate to strong correlations existed between Tc and TS in the cool (0.41, p<0.05) and hot & humid (0.57, p<0.05) conditions, however this was resultant in strong correlation during the earlier stages of rehabilitation (first five minutes), which were not evident in the latter stages. Linear regression revealed TS to be a poor predictor of Tc in all conditions (SEE=0.45–0.54 °C) with a strong trend for TS to over-predict Tc (77–80% of the time). There is minimal evidence to suggest that ratings of thermal sensation, which represent a psychophysical assessment of an individual's thermal comfort, are an accurate reflection of the response of an individual's core temperature. Ratings of thermal sensation can be highly variable amongst individuals, likely moderated by local skin temperature. In account of these findings, fire managers require a more reliable source of information to guide decisions of heat stress management.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2020 23:51
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2020 02:45
Uncontrolled Keywords: core temperature, thermal sensation, heat stress management, firefighting
Fields of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110602 Exercise Physiology
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111705 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety
Fields of Research (2020): 42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4207 Sports science and exercise > 420702 Exercise physiology
35 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 3505 Human resources and industrial relations > 350505 Occupational and workplace health and safety
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920505 Occupational Health
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