Firefighter Physical Fitness/(Preparedness?) for Duty: Routine vs. Disaster response

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Firefighter Physical Fitness/(Preparedness?) for Duty: Routine vs. Disaster response by Mind Map: Firefighter Physical Fitness/(Preparedness?) for Duty: Routine vs. Disaster response

1. Generate understanding of respondents experience and perceptions of physical demands of the job

1.1. Account for personal biases of fitness levels. May not get accurate data in an interview because people won't admit they cannot perform the job.

1.2. Is there a correlation between personal firefighting experience, personal levels of fitness and perceived level of self-efficacy to respond to or be prepared for disasters (extreme work times at fixed intensity)

1.3. How do respondents rank the importance of physical fitness in firefighting/emergency response/disaster response duties? Is there a correlation between perceived importance of physical fitness in FF vs. perceptions regarding the augmented endurance requirements that could be used to better prepare FF's for disaster response. How important is fitness to the success of FF operations? to the safety of individual FF's? to the safety of the public?

1.4. In general, are Fire Departments physically prepared to respond to disasters? Why or why not? What would prevent FF's from being prepared for disaster response? (ex. Departmental fitness standards; personal motivation; departmental advocacy/influence/encouragement?) Should Fire Departments be prepared for disaster response? What is the likelihood of disaster? What is the likelihood that your department would respond to a disaster? What is the likelihood that your department will exhaust it's manpower (ex. have every individual either working simultaneously, or having all individuals work long hours with inadequate rest time between shifts) during a multi-day disaster event (earthquake, wildfire, hurricane, explosion in Mackay camp at CNRL, etc - think extraordinary/catastrophe that could exhaust the resources within the given region of the respondent - it's all relative)

2. The demands of routine firefighting duties as outlined in the literature review

2.1. Define "Routine firefighting duties": Alpha/Bravo priority - minor medical calls, fender benders; Charlie/Delta priority - major medical calls, multi-patient medical calls; multi vehicle MVA's; residential/ commercial/high rise fires, Haz Mat calls, High risk rescue calls.

2.2. Governed by fitness evaluations

2.2.1. No standard Different timeframes Pre-employment Annual Deterioration of physical fitness over time thus FF's needs to be tested more frequently. Different testing methods Functional Capacity fitness tests Intuitive fitness tests

2.3. Physiological effects from:

2.3.1. Extreme physical workload (victim rescue; high rise structure fire)

2.3.2. Heat (Environment; PPE)

2.3.3. Restrictive/Heavy PPE

2.3.4. Decreased respiratory capacity by 15-20% from SCBA

2.3.5. Psychological stressors that impair physical abilities

2.4. What skills/abilities/levels of fitness are required to be successful/safe performing routine firefighting duties?

2.4.1. Ability to resist injury Cardiovascular and muscoloskeletal

2.4.2. Ability to perform job successfully Perform job tasks effectively (ie. Firefighting, rescue)

2.4.3. Ability to perform job safely Protect self, teammates and public Resist/cope with physiological effects

3. The perceived demands of responding to disasters as indicated from my research

3.1. Define disaster: Extreme/extended work times at fixed intensity separates disaster from routine emergency (Disaster Response Principals, p.37).

3.2. Echo priority - anything that overwhelms the capacity of an FD's on-duty resources [ie. earthquake causing 100's of partial/full building collapses -

3.3. Do disasters present with different challenges/requirements than regular firefighting duties?

3.3.1. If so, what are they?

3.4. Do disasters impose greater physical demands on firefighters than regular duties?

3.4.1. If so, what are they?

3.5. What skills/abilities/levels of fitness are required to be successful/safe responding to disasters?

3.6. In considering the impacts of a disaster on the response demands of firefighters, to what extent can current fitness evaluations adequately measure the physical demands of responding to disasters?

3.6.1. Functional capacity vs. Intuitive testing Is one more applicable than the other?

3.6.2. What tools should be used to measure physical fitness for duty in responding to disasters?

3.6.3. What should be added/subtracted to the current fitness evaluation procedures to ensure firefighters are fit for disaster response duty?

4. Firefighters respond to all emergencies, from alpha priority (Broken ankle) to echo priority (mass casualty disaster). Routine calls are usually lower priority but some regions are at risk for great disaster (ie. Major urban centres)

4.1. Do these departments perceive risk differently than departments where lower risks are found?

4.2. Do these departments prepare differently for the physical demands that are associated with disaster? Do the guys who fight fires consistently stay in better shape?

4.3. Risk perception is an important concept because if respondents don't perceive the risks from disaster, they're less likely to perceive their inability to respond to a disaster event.

4.3.1. people in California may respond to this study differently than Albertans.

4.3.2. Focus on Wildfire activity for AB; seismic for BC

5. How can anything accurately measure firefighting duties if they are so varied?

5.1. What should the fitness benchmark be? Should it be to meet the demands of regular firefighting duties, or should firefighters hold themselves to a higher standard and implement fitness requirements that ensure physical preparation for worst case scenario (ie. large scale disaster)?

6. -Possible Question #2: What differences exist between the perceived levels of firefighter fitness required to successfully/safely respond to routine vs. disaster emergencies? -Possible Question #3: To what extent do active, full-time firefighters feel that current fitness testing strategies adequately measure fitness for disaster response duty? (Stick with NFPA test or have respondents comment about their own fire departments testing strategies/fitness requirements to identify if there are any trends?. ie. 75% of respondents who are tested by test "A" feel its worthy, while 25% of respondents tested by test "B" feel its worthy. Also, looking at differences in call volumes/risks in the area to see if this plays a role in perception.

7. Purpose(s): -To identify if/what differences exist between the perceived levels of firefighter fitness required to successfully/safely respond to routine vs. disaster emergencies. -To identify if current firefighter fitness testing strategies are appropriate measures of the physical demands associated with responding to disasters.

8. Methodology

8.1. Why: See Purpose

8.2. Who (Sample size/population): Urban and/or rural? municipal and/or industrial? Full time and/or volunteer? Forest FF's excluded because they wear different PPE and perform different duties Who is this intended for?: All emergency services because the potential for disaster is everywhere.

8.3. Where: Only AB firefighters involved? Methods will determine travel/location of data collection.

8.4. When: Timeframe to complete data collection?

8.5. What: Objectives to be met and questions to be asked.

8.6. How (Methods): Hypothesis? Qualitative or quantitative? Surveys or interviews/focus groups? if interviews, how to record data? Data analysis?

9. Delimitations: Only examining the most common physiological parameters related to firefighting found in available literature. Reseach results may depend on the level of experience the firefighter has. Ex: A FF with more experience may perceived physiological effects/work demands more that a FF with little experience. Or vice versa.

10. Possible research question #1: Does disaster response require a greater/different level of firefighter physical preparedness/fitness/endurance than routine emergency response, in order to achieve operational success/performance? (preparedness and endurance have cause and effect relationship).

10.1. Why this is important for the field of DEM: - Lots of research dedicated to improving fitness of FF's in routine emergencies, but nothing that focuses on the unique time element that presents in a disaster situation. - 2 primary elements that separate emergency from disaster are scale/magnitude and time (Disaster Response Principals, p.33, 37) - 45% of FF deaths are from cardiac arrest ( - Public safety relies on response success, and response success relies on FF fitness.

10.2. Find case studies involving failed disaster response or disasters that involved extended work loads (ex.Christchurch earthquake) of physical intensity equal to a routine emergency to show that improved physical endurance could have resulted in a more desirable outcome.

10.3. How long must the physical intensity associated with regular firefighting duties be sustained to be considered adequate? In other words, what levels of endurance must be achieved at a given intensity to perform FF duties?

10.4. What endurance requirements exist to adequately respond to emergencies vs. disasters?

10.5. What do FF's need to respond to disasters? Ex. Fitness programs? Frequent testing strategies? Preparation for events that pose extraordinary physical endurance demands?

10.6. How can endurance be improved at a fixed intensity?

10.7. Eliminated the fitness assessment focus and put more emphasis on finding out if fitness demands/requirements are different for everyday emergency response vs. disaster response. I figure the most important variable between the two is time. Everyday emergencies end after a reasonably short period of time, while disasters tie up resources and require them to work for extended periods of time. So at a given level of work intensity, does disaster response require a greater level of endurance seeing as it could last for several hours or even days. And, do our current standards prepare FF's for these responses?

11. Firefighter fitness breaks down into muscular strength (to wear heavy PPE, carry equipment, lift/drag objects/people) aerobic capacity (V02 max) and muscular endurance (work time threshold). This research will focus on the element of endurance (work time threshold) at a fixed level of intensity (strength + V02 max). Intensity defined as sustained energy output. ex. working at a fixed V02 max while using tools and gear that weigh 'x' amount. Need to define a constant intensity in order to explore the endurance variable.

11.1. "The job of the firefighter is high intensity bursts of activity followed by either lower intensity periods or rest periods. This means that you need good aerobic capacity, good strength and good muscular endurance." - Lance Walker, What's your best workout?

11.2. Need to define fitness - aerobic capacity, strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, balance (see balance article)???

12. My Geistesblitzes

12.1. Do current fitness standards prepare FFs for disaster response?