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Michael Toczko1, Robert Lockie2, Megan Sax van der Weyden1, Marcie Fyock-Martin1, Joel Martin1. 1George Mason University, Manassas, VA. 2California State University, Fullerton, CA.

INTRODUCTION: To become a firefighter (FF) individuals must pass physically demanding exams, which assess ability to perform job tasks prior to entering a training academy. Despite the importance of health and fitness for FF only about 30% of US fire departments have health and wellness programs. Recently, a fire department in the US implemented mandatory annual fitness testing with punitive consequences for substandard performance. The purpose of the study is to report the effects of implementing a consequential fitness assessment (FA) within a fire department. METHODS: Retrospective data was provided from 1364 professional FF (Males:88%, Females: 12%, age: 40.0±8.8 yrs, years of service: 11.9±6.8 yrs) from 2019, 2020 and 2021. The FA consisted of maximum pull-ups (PL), maximum curl-ups (CU) within 60 seconds, maximum push-ups (PS) within 60 seconds, and 3-minute step test (ST) to estimate peak oxygen consumption. To examine the effect of exam year (EY) on fitness outcomes (FO) analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were conducted while controlling for age and sex. Tukey’s Post-hoc Test were used to determine any significance differences between exam year (p<0.05). RESULTS: The sample size for 2019, 2020, and 2021 were 1013, 777, and 1084 , respectively. There were no significant differences between sex distribution and age by EY. The ANCOVA revealed there was a significant small effect of EY on FO (PL: F(2, 2848) = 5.92, p <0.01, η2= 0.003; CU: F(2, 2848) = 17.57, p <0.001, η2= 0.01; PS: (F(2, 2848) = 18.50, p <0.001, η2= 0.01; ST: F(2, 2848) = 26.19, p <0.001, η2= 0.02). FF performance in 2021 was significantly better on CU, PS, and ST compared to 2019 (p<0.001). PL performance in 2021 was significantly better than 2020 (p<0.01). FF performed significantly better on CU and ST in 2020 than 2019 (p<0.01). CONCLUSION: The results suggest the implementation of a consequential FA may be a plausible method for FF to maintain sufficient fitness to meet occupational demands. Although there was a significant difference between FO by EY it is not evident whether the small FO changes lead to increased performance of occupational tasks. Future research should explore whether changes in fitness lead to improvements in ability to perform occupational tasks.

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