BACKGROUND: In many sport populations, heart rate (HR) is used to quantify the physiological response of sport-specific demands. This may be a useful measure in firefighters (FF) when tracking their response to occupational tasks and can be extended into the emerging sport of FF competitions. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to monitor HR responses during a FF competition. METHODS: Fourteen FF (11 male, 3 female; aged 32±5 y) volunteered for this study and competed in the individual category of a FF competition. FF completed a set of timed tasks in personal protective equipment, including high rise carry, hose hoist, forcible entry, hose advance, and victim rescue. HR was monitored by chest strap throughout the event, with measures of HRavg for the total duration of their race, HRpre immediately prior to the start, HRpost immediately following crossing the finish line, and HRrecovery after one minute following completion of the race. HRmax was calculated by age-predicted max heart rate. Of the 14 FF, 11 FF (2 female, 9 male) collected HR data. Data are represented by mean ± standard deviation. T-tests were run to investigate mean differences between time points, with α ≤ 0.05. RESULTS: Average time to complete the course was 104±12 s. Average and maximum HR values were 92±3% and 97±4%, respectively. HRpre was 79±7%, HRpost was 93±6%, and HRrecovery was 89±4%. Expectedly, HR increased significantly from pre to post (p<0.001), despite a non-significant decrease from HRpost to HRrecovery (p=0.135). CONCLUSIONS: There was an anticipatory HR response as reflected in the HRpre data, corresponding with a vigorous HR zone (>75% HRmax) according to ACSM guidelines. While there was a significant increase from pre to post, HRavg and HRpost were not significantly different (p=0.78), indicating the HR response increased quickly and robustly throughout the short race and remained elevated close to maximum for the majority of the event. Despite multiple competitor strategies to incorporate active rest both within and immediately following their race, HRrecovery did not significantly decrease from post values. Future studies should incorporate fitness assessments to further discern the magnitude of changes from rest to pre-race, and measures within each event interval.

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