Wildland firefighter load carriage: Effects on transit time and physiological responses during simulated escape to safety zone

B. C. Ruby, G. W. Leadbetter, D. W. Armstrong, S. E. Gaskill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of load carriage on transit time during simulated escape route evacuation. Subjects (8 males, 5 females) completed two maximal field hikes in random order on two successive days ( 16 kg [35 1b] line gear pack trial and no pack trial). Subjects carried a fire shelter and a Pulaski (the most commonly used fireline construction tool in the United States, consisting of a hoe/ax combination with an 80 cm handle) during each trial. Trials were completed on a dirt trail 660.5 m in length with a vertical rise of 137 m (average grade = 20.75%). Expired air samples were analysed continuously during each trial (Cosmed K4 or Aerosport VO2000). Blood samples were collected before and 2 min after exercise for lactate analysis. Transit time was significantly faster during the No pack trial, representing a 21.5 and 26.3% faster transit time for males and females, respectively. For the males, mean VO2 was higher during the No pack trial. The difference in blood lactate (peak-rest) was significantly higher during the Pack trial for the male subjects. High correlations between peak VO2 (L min-1) and transit rates were noted (r = 0.82 for the Pack trial and 0.87 for the No pack trial), indicating the contribution of aerobic fitness to transit time. These data suggest that escape routes should include a physical strain index related to load carriage, distance and slope and that line gear weight standards should be further evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003

Keywords

  • Aerobic fitness
  • Blood lactate
  • Energy expenditure
  • Firefighting
  • Wildland fire suppression

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