M. Thomas, W. M. Silvers

Whitworth University, Spokane, WA

Wildland firefighters are often subject to long shift durations with limited recovery and sleep. Within this group, there are different job classifications whose recovery and sleep may be affected variably. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to describe daytime sleepiness (DS) among different classifications of wildland firefighters. METHODS: 18 full-time and temporary wildland firefighters volunteered to complete the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), which is a self-reported survey designed to assess DS. The questions address a variety of daily activities that could induce a wide range of sleepiness trends. Within the sample population, there were three job classifications represented: crew member, engine member, and supervisor. Descriptive statistics were utilized to summarize trends from the survey results. RESULTS: An ESS score above 10 represents abnormal DS, a score of 11-14 represents mild DS, a score of 15-18 equates to moderate DS, and any score above 18 constitutes severe DS. The median ESS score for the entire sample population was 7. Crew and engine members, each had median ESS scores of 8. Supervisors had a median ESS score of 6. CONCLUSION: It was expected that the sample population, or at least engine and crew members, would have ESS scores greater than 10. In the present descriptive study, this was not the case. Typically, August is the most demanding time period of the fire season, so the survey planned for administration at that time. However, for this sample population, the most demanding period of the 2021 fire season occurred earlier than normal (June and July), which allowed the fire personnel to be more rested during the assessment time in August. Future researchers should consider administering the ESS immediately upon checkout of 14-21 day fire assignments. Use of this timeline may improve the representativeness of ESS scores for the work conditions of interest. In addition, immediate assessment of ESS post-assignment may increase the size and diversity of the sample.

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