Fitness is critical in keeping wildland firefighters (WLFFs) healthy and safe from injury. Unfortunately, little is known about the physical training (PT) programs of WLFFs. The purpose of this study was to understand motivators, barriers and injuries related to PT. We used a descriptive research design. Information about PT practices was collected through interviews with key informants and was analysed qualitatively. Additionally, a questionnaire was developed, reviewed by experts, pilot tested and distributed electronically to WLFFs. A total of 16 interviews were conducted with key informants from multiple state, federal and volunteer agencies. Two overarching concepts, firefighter culture and environment, emerged from interviews as major influences on PT. The most frequently identified barrier to PT was work-related projects taking precedence over PT. Multiple motivating factors were identified, including having supervisors that participate in PT and wanting to be seen as a strong crewmember. Nearly half the injuries reported by WLFF resulted from PT and ∼40% were viewed as preventable injuries. This project provides an understanding of the current PT practices of WLFFs. More importantly, results from this study identify, from the perspective of the firefighters themselves, the major motivators and barriers to engaging in PT.
- socioecological model