S. Brooks, C. Collins, R. Brooks, A. Brown

University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

PURPOSE: Limited research has been conducted on hydration and nutrition recommendations for wildland firefighter’s (WLFFs) but job demands and performance make this population comparable to athletes. To make specific recommendations for WLFFs, a pilot study was initiated to identify fluid consumption, macronutrient distribution and electrolyte content on a 14-day fire assignment (FA). METHODS: WLFFs (N=427) across the United States completed an online survey. One open-ended and three Likert scale questions assessed WLFFs fluid consumption on FA. Secondarily, food boxes provided for a subset of smokejumpers (SJ; N=10) was analyzed using Food Processor (ESHA, 10.13.1, Salem, OR). Descriptive data were reported as mean±SD using SPSS Statistics (v. 23). RESULTS: WLFFs average water and electrolyte consumption from sports drinks on FA was 145.8 – 462.7 mL/hr and 0.1 – 0.5 g/hr, respectively. Total caloric content of the food box was 5,322.0 calories/day. The macronutrient distribution for protein, carbohydrates and fat was 824.8, 2,892.0, 1,605.5 calories/day, respectively. Protein content consisted of 16% (2.2-2.9 g/kg) of total calories, while carbohydrates consisted of 54% (7.9-10.3 g/kg) and fat was 30% (1.9-2.5 g/kg). Saturated fat contributed 30% of total fat content. Electrolyte content of the food boxes included magnesium (214.5 mg), potassium (1,607.2 mg), and sodium (11,224.8 mg). CONCLUSION: Hydration on FA is well below recommendations for prolonged endurance athletes (600 – 1,200 mL/hr) as well as electrolyte replacement (30 – 60 g/hr) to support optimal job performance. Provided nutrition for WLFFs meets the athlete recommendations for carbohydrate (6-10 g/kg) and fat (20-35% total calories), however exceeds recommendations for saturated fat (<10%) and protein (1.2-1.4 g/kg). However, these data are based on provided nutrition not actual intake. Provided macronutrient distribution may not be adequate to support WLFF physical demands over a 6 month fire season. Further research is necessary to determine the variability in calories provided and consumed as well as the long term impacts on health, performance, and safety.

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