BACKGROUND: Successful fitness program for firefighter recruits involves designed training to , prepare them for the dangerous tasks involved in firefighting. An 8-week program was created and tailored to the demands of firefighting, ensuring recruits were prepared for challenges faced on duty. PURPOSE: Evaluate the effectiveness of an 8-week firefighter recruit training program in a rural setting. METHODS: Eleven firefighter recruits in southeast Georgia participated in an 8- week training program to improve their physical performance. This program consisted of 1 day of job-specific tasks performed in bunker gear (with amount worn gear increasing as program progressed);, 1-2 days of circuit training;, 1 day of formation runs of progressively greater distance;, and 1 day of Tabata at individual VO2 max. Pre and post data of health and fitness variables were collected, including blood pressure, anthropometric measures, strength, aerobic capacity, and functional movement. Nonparametric Wilcoxon signed-rank test were used to determine statistically significant differences in health and performance measures after program implementation. RESULTS: There was a significant increase in systolic blood pressure (p=.018, Median pre [M1]= 125.00 mmHg; Median post [M2]=132 mmHg; Median of difference [MD]=+5.00 mmHg) while abdominal circumference decreased significantly (p=0.004; M1=95.0 cm; M2=96.0 cm; MD=-4.5 cm). FMS total significantly increased from M1=16.0 to M2=19.0 (p=0.017; MD=+3.0) and there was a significant increase in handgrip strength (p=0.002; M1=90.0 kg; M2=100.0 kg; MD=+12.00 kg). Participants showed significant increases in intermittent fitness test (IFT) speed (p=0.031; M1=15.50 km/h; M2=16.50 km/h; MD=+0.50 km/h) as well as improvement in aerobic capacity after the program with significant increases in VO2 max (p=0.008; M1=42.70 ml/kg/bw; M2=45.30 ml/kg/bw; MD=1.00 ml/kg/bw).CONCLUSIONS: [15] [16] [17] The periodized program demonstrated positive significant changes in functional movement, handgrip strength, abdominal circumference, and aerobic capacity (VO2 max, IFT). Blood pressure was found significantly higher, which could be due to to post testing and agency occupation- specific testing culminating at the same time.

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