Kayleigh Newman1, Michael Toczko1, Jatin Ambegaonkar1, Anne Akagi2, Megan Sax van der Weyden1, Marcie Fyock-Martin1, Joel Martin1. 1George Mason University, Manassas, VA. 2Charleston Southern University, Charleston, SC.

INTRODUCTION: Firefighters (FFs) require adequate fitness levels to safely perform their professional tasks. Accordingly, fire departments assess their physical fitness (PF) annually during the work performance test. In the general population, PF levels - specifically muscular and cardiovascular fitness - decline as one ages. However, due to the physical nature of the profession, this decline in PF may not be as prominent in FFs. Therefore our purpose was to investigate the effect of years of service (YOS) on FF PF levels. METHODS: We analyzed retrospective data from 1364 professional FF(M: 88%, age: 40+8.82 yrs, YOS: 11.98+6.87 yrs). PF assessments consisted of maximum pull-ups (PL), curl-ups completed in 60 s(CU), push-ups completed in 60 s (PS). The 3-minute step test (ST) was used to estimate peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak). Participants were separated in to 3 groups based on YOS, (0-10, 11-20, 20+ years). Separate Analyses of Variance (ANOVA) followed by Turkey’s Post-hoc Tests, as appropriate, examined differences in outcome measures between groups using R environment (R Core Team, Vienna, Austria) p<0.05. RESULTS: PL, CU, and PS differed across groups of YOS (PL; F(2, 2852) = 70.3, p <0.001, η2= 0.05), (CU; F(2, 2852) = 67.5, p <0.001, η2= 0.05), (PS; (F(2, 2852) = 38.5, p <0.001, η2= 0.03). FF with 0-10 YOS performed greater PL, CU, and PS than those with 11-20 (p<0.05) and 20+ (p<0.05). FF with 11-20 YOS performed more PL, CU, and PS than FF with 20+ YOS(p<0.05). There was no significant effect for YOS (F(2, 2852) = 1.568, p =0.21, η2= 0.001) on VO2peak. CONCLUSION: The findings support prior observations that PF and ability to perform occupational duties are related in firefighters. Specifically, FF with greater YOS display declines in occupational tasks performance. Given the previously described decreases in PF with age in the literature, future researchers should examine whether YOS mediates relationships between age and PF in professional FF. The current evidence suggests that fire departments should consider YOS in addition to age when providing additional resources to support maintenance of PF in their FF.

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