Project: Weight and Activity Levels in Fire Fighters with Different Work Contracts

Peer reviewed and published

This project was submitted on 29/07/2015, published on 29/07/2015

Introduction: This study involved a survey of retained and whole-time fire fighters. Differences in activity and weight were examined.

Background: Firefighting can be a physically demanding role. Overweight and inactivity are factors known to contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease; one US study found that 45% of on-duty deaths in fire fighters were due to cardiac events. Members of the public can join the fire service as retained fire fighters with minimal or no ongoing provision for fitness. However all fire fighters are expected to arrive for duty fit for their role. Knowledge on the activity and weight profile of fire fighters on different work contracts could inform policy and interventions to promote health and safety in fire fighters.

Aims: To compare weight and activity levels in operational whole time and retained fire fighters.

Methods: The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) short form was used to establish self-reported activity levels. Data were collected on mass and height. One hundred and fifty-five fire fighters completed surveys (38% response rate). After deletion of invalid cases analyses were conducted on a sample of 124 male fire fighters (51 whole time and 73 retained). Correlations, t-tests and odds ratios were calculated.

Results: The majority of whole time and retained fire fighters reported high activity levels. One in six fire fighters were obese (BMI ≥ 30). Retained fire fighters were almost two-and-a-half times more likely than whole time fire fighters to be overweight or obese (BMI ≥ 27).

Conclusion: Retained fire fighters showed higher risk of overweight and obesity than whole time fire fighters. However, no difference was demonstrated between activity levels. These findings suggest a focus on retained fire fighters is warranted when considering interventions to enhance the fitness of fire fighters.

Beale Poster.pptx
Occupational health & wellbeing

Organisation: University of Nottingham

Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology
School of Medicine
Workplace Health and Wellbeing
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Principal Investigator: Jane Beale

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