Predicting Performance on a Firefighting Specific Ability Test in Volunteer Firefighters


Kerns, Z., Bennett, D.,Moir, G. East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA

The use of firefighter specific Ability Tests (AT) could allow firefighters to monitor their own fitness, and expose areas that need improvement. Those improvements could help decrease chances of fatality or injury and improve performance in firefighting operations leading to more lives saved. Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to study the relationship between fitness parameters and performance on a firefighting specific ability test. Subjects: Nine certified firefighters (27.11±10.56 yr, 89.74±21.92 kg, mean±SD) from the East Stroudsburg Volunteer Fire Department performed the AT. Methods: The AT consisted of 6 events performed consecutively: stair climb, hose drag, equipment carry, ladder raise & extension, search, and rescue. Prior to the AT all subjects performed the following fitness parameter tests: aerobic capacity (VO2max), push-ups in a minute, sit-ups in a minute, handgrip strength (Dynamometer), and lower body power (Vertical Jump). Pearson’s product moment correlations and linear regression statistics used to determine the strength of relationship between variables and to predict AT performance from the fitness variables. Results: VO2max (r=-.812) and sit-ups in a minute (r=-.787) were found to be significantly inversely correlated with overall AT time. VO2max could predict AT performance from the following regression equation (R2=0.61): AT time = 0.148*(VO2max)+11.915. The equation for the fitted model with R2=0.61 is: AT Time = -0.148 * (VO2 max) + 11.915. Conclusion: The results suggest VO2max to be an important physiological variable for firefighter’s performance, explaining 61% of variance in AT performance. Future research should explore other relevant fitness parameters such as, Critical Power, Lactate Threshold and Maximal Strength, in combination for prediction of performance on AT; which may help to explain the remaining variance in performance, as well as to identify the specific training factors crucial to firefighter performance.

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