Stress tests for firefighters

Shelford grassfire

Fire fighters from ACT Parks and Conservation Service are this week participating in a research project by the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre (Bushfire CRC) to measure the effects of stress, heat, smoke and sleep deprivation during multi-day bushfire deployments, Manager of the TAMS Fire Management Unit, Neil Cooper said today.

“The project, undertaken at Birrigai Outdoor School at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, will provide excellent field data on the conditions that our fire fighters battle during a bushfire incident,” Mr Cooper said.

“In addition it is hoped that the Bushfire CRC will be able to develop guidelines and specific training to better assist in the health and safety of our fire fighters.

“Participating in three groups of five over two weeks, staff will live together at Birrigai and conduct strenuous physical fire fighting tasks at the simulation site for four days and four nights. They will undertake one of seven experimental conditions that have variations on temperature, sleep and smoke concentration or one control condition during the project.

“The simulation is designed to mimic a situation in which fire fighters are called to a fire during early-afternoon, work at the fireground until a relief crew arrives, sleep, work a 12-hour shift, sleep and then complete a second 12-hour shift.

“A series of physical and cognitive tasks will be performed every two waking hours to test the effects of the seven experimental conditions. Participants will be fitted with a heart rate monitor, portable global positioning system, activity monitor and an ingestible core body temperature capsule.

“This testing will help us better understand the needs of our staff during emergencies and allow for the strategic scheduling of shifts to manage sleep and stress on our fire fighters,” Mr Cooper said.

The Bushfire CRC is made up of all the fire and land management agencies in Australia and New Zealand, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Attorney General's Department. The Bushfire CRC’s objectives are to develop an internationally renowned centre of excellence to lead bushfire research in Australia, to provide a research framework that will improve the effectiveness of bushfire management agencies and to increase the self-sufficiency of communities in managing the risks from bushfires.

Statement Ends

Media contact: Lannon Harley, ACT TAMS Media, 6207 1286


Release date

Fri, 15/06/2012