Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Firefighters' Greatest Danger May Not Be Fires, But Lack Of Exercise

Date:
May 7, 2001
Source:
Texas A&M University
Summary:
Fighting fires is difficult, courageous work, but all of those sedentary hours spent in the firehouse might be just as dangerous as a 3-alarm blaze. A study by the Applied Exercise Science Laboratory at Texas A&M University shows that firemen are often at high risk for heart attacks primarily because they get little or no exercise while on duty.

COLLEGE STATION - Fighting fires is difficult, courageous work, but all of those sedentary hours spent in the firehouse might be just as dangerous as a 3-alarm blaze.

Related Articles


A study by the Applied Exercise Science Laboratory at Texas A&M University shows that firemen are often at high risk for heart attacks primarily because they get little or no exercise while on duty.

Wade Womack, a faculty member in the Applied Exercise Science Laboratory at Texas A&M, charted 74 firefighters over a six-year period.

His study, titled "Cardiovascular Risk Markers in Firefighters: A Longitudinal Study" published in Cardiovascular Reviews and Reports, shows that often firemen are overweight and have less-than-ideal cholesterol levels, both of which could pose serious health problems.

"It all comes down to one main point: firemen need to exercise more," says Womack.

"When firemen do fight fires, it is work that is both very strenuous and stressful, and very physically exerting. Put it all together and the chances of a heart attack are high."

Womack's results are similar with data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), one of the country's largest group of firemen. In a study conducted by the NFPA 1977-95, about one-half of all line-of-duty deaths by firemen were not the result of fires, but heart attacks.

"In almost all of the cases, the heart attacks suffered by firemen are directly linked to the exertional demands of the firefighter's job," Womack reports.

"They have long periods on duty in which they get little or no exercise. Then when a fire does occur, there is a sudden, intense energy demand required, and if they are not in adequate physical condition, the results can be deadly."

Nationally, figures show three-fourths of firefighters over the age of 45 who die in the line of duty die from a heart attack. And of the firefighters who have died from a heart attack while in the line of duty, 2 of every 5 had documented heart conditions, Womack said.

Participants in Womack's study ranged in age from early 20s to mid 60s, with the average age being 35.8 years old. They had above average body fat composition and slightly higher cholesterol readings based on optimum levels.

Especially disturbing, he said, was that VO2 max, a measure of aerobic fitness, deteriorated significantly during the course of the study, from 41.8 to 35.6, suggesting a negative trend in the firemen's overall physical condition.

The message is clear: firemen need to work out more.

"For their own welfare, firemen need more exercise, but it could also come down to a matter of public safety," Womack believes.

"If a fireman is out of shape and is responding to a fire, could he not perform his job or put others at risk because of his fitness condition? It's very possible.

"Many fire departments have fitness equipment and exercise rooms available to firemen," adds Womack. "But likewise, many fire departments do not require any physical activity and do not have fitness requirements that firefighters must maintain."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M University. "Firefighters' Greatest Danger May Not Be Fires, But Lack Of Exercise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010507083027.htm>.
Texas A&M University. (2001, May 7). Firefighters' Greatest Danger May Not Be Fires, But Lack Of Exercise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010507083027.htm
Texas A&M University. "Firefighters' Greatest Danger May Not Be Fires, But Lack Of Exercise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/05/010507083027.htm (accessed March 4, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Adults Only Get The Flu Twice A Decade, Researchers Say

Adults Only Get The Flu Twice A Decade, Researchers Say

Newsy (Mar. 4, 2015) Researchers found adults only get the flu about once every five years. Scientists analyzed how a person&apos;s immunity builds up over time as well. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mount Everest Has a Poop Problem

Mount Everest Has a Poop Problem

Buzz60 (Mar. 4, 2015) With no bathrooms to use, climbers of Mount Everest have been leaving human waste on the mountain for years, and it&apos;s becoming a health issue. Mike Janela (@mikejanela) has more. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obamacare's New Supreme Court Battle

Obamacare's New Supreme Court Battle

Washington Post (Mar. 4, 2015) The Affordable Care Act is facing another challenge at the Supreme Court in King v. Burwell, which deals with subsidies for health insurance. The case could cut out a major provision of Obamacare, causing the law to unravel. Here’s what you need to know about the case. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mom Triumphs Over Tragedy, Helps Other Families

Mom Triumphs Over Tragedy, Helps Other Families

AP (Mar. 3, 2015) After her son, Dax, died from a rare form of leukemia, Julie Locke decided to give back to the doctors at St. Jude Children&apos;s Research Hospital who tried to save his life. She raised $1.6M to help other patients and their families. (March 3) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins