Media Advisory: Landmark research reveals effects of firefighter heat stress, increases firefighter safety|
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Heart attack is the leading cause of firefighter fatality in North America.
Firefighters' physical work demands and the thermal strain of wearing heavy
protective clothing can place a tremendous burden on their hearts in supplying
the necessary blood flow for physical work and heat regulation. Although the
heat-stress of wearing firefighting protective clothing was already well known,
until recently, safe work limits for different ambient conditions were not
Dr. Tom McLellan, a research physologist, working in conjunction with Toronto
Fire Services, recently concluded a five-part research project to establish
safe work guidelines for Toronto firefighters wearing firefighting protective
clothing and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). The two-year study,
conducted by McLellan and Glen Selkirk, was funded by a grant from the
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB). Approximately 40
Toronto firefighters participated in more than 330 heat-stress trials in the
climatic facility at Defence Research and Development Canada - Toronto (DRDC
Toronto). DRDC is an agency of Canada's Department of National Defence.
A major outcome of this work was the production of a field guide for fire
incident commanders. This easy-to-use slide rule gives incident commanders safe
limits for continuous work and strategies for fluid replacement, rehabilitation
and personnel management. The research demonstrated the importance of fluid
replacement and active cooling strategies when wearing firefighter clothing and
working in the heat. It also found that wearing shorts instead of station pants
under the bunker gear provided a significant physiological advantage,
especially during recovery.
On Tuesday, December 16, 2003, Toronto Fire Services will mark the formal
completion of the research project, when Dr. McLellan, joined by
representatives of DRDC Toronto, WSIB and Toronto Fire Services, presents his
field guide to Toronto Fire Services Chief William Stewart.
Date: Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Toronto Fire Services Headquarters, 4330 Dufferin St.
(north of Allen Road and Sheppard Avenue West -- From Dufferin Street, turn
west onto Steeprock Drive and then north on Lodestar Road)
Captain Tim Metcalfe, Toronto Fire Services, 416-338-9429,
Cell: 416-999-3931, Pager: 416-404-1591