Time to target heart rate in professional firefighters wearing a weighted vest versus firefighter gear

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Issue Date
2014-05
Authors
Carson, Lindsey L.
Donner, Lisa A.
Amick, Ryan Zackary
Miller, Ruth A.
Patterson, Jeremy A.
Jorgensen, Michael J.
Hakansson, Nils A.
Advisor
Citation

Carson, Lindsey L.; Donner, Lisa A.; Amick, Ryan Zackary; Miller, Ruth A.; Patterson, Jeremy A.; Jorgensen, Michael J.; Hakansson, Nils. 2014. Time to target heart rate in professional firefighters wearing a weighted vest versus firefighter gear. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol. 46:no. 5:pp 932-932

Abstract

Firefighters have a physically demanding job that requires the ability to perform important and difficult tasks while carrying the weight of their fire gear. The Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) is a physical exam that tests a candidate’s ability to perform firefighting tasks. During this test, candidates wear a 50-lb weighted vest to simulate the weight of a firefighter’s gear, including protective gear and equipment.PURPOSE: To determine whether a weighted vest accurately simulates gear in regard to heart rate activity of professional Firefighters during physical activity.METHODS: Six male professional Firefighters (aged 26.83 ± 6.08 years) participated in this pilot study. Each subject performed two progressive incline treadmill stress tests using the Modified Balke protocol. The protocol was further modified to increase the grade by an additional 1 percent each minute. One test was performed while wearing a vest weighted to 35.5 lb. This weight simulates protective gear, which is fire gear without the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). The second test was performed while wearing fire protective gear, including boots, bunker pants, coat and helmet. Tests were performed in a randomized order at the same time of the day with at least a six-day break between tests. Target heart rate was calculated for each subject using the equation (220 – Age) x 0.85. For each test, heart rate was measured with a heart rate monitor and time to target heart rate was recorded.RESULTS: Mean time to target heart rate was 570.5 (±91.55) seconds and 511 (±92.79) seconds with vest and gear, respectively. A paired sample t-test indicates that there is a significant difference between time to target heart rate while wearing fire protective gear and a weighted vest (p=0.026).CONCLUSION: As determined by this pilot study, a weighted vest does not accurately simulate fire protective gear with regard to time to target heart rate of professional Firefighters during physical activity.

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