Physiological Determinants of the Candidate Physical Ability Test in Firefighters

Department of Kinesiology, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Impact Factor: 2.08). 10/2010; 24(11):3112-22. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181f0a8d5
Source: PubMed


The purpose of this study was to examine the relative importance of physiological characteristics during firefighting performance, as assessed by the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT). Subjects included career and volunteer firefighters aged 18-39 (N = 33). Upper- and lower-body strength, muscle endurance, lower body muscle power, body composition analysis, aerobic capacity, anaerobic fitness, and the heart rate (HR) and blood pressure response to stair climbing were assessed to determine the physiological characteristics of the subjects. To quantify firefighting performance, the CPAT was administered by members of the fire service. Absolute and relative mean power during the Wingate anaerobic cycling test (WAnT), relative peak power during the WAnT, and absolute maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) were significantly higher in those who passed the CPAT (N = 18), compared to those who failed (N = 15; p < 0.01). Mean power during the WAnT, fatigue index during WAnT, absolute VO2max, upper body strength, grip strength, and the HR response to stair climbing were significantly related to CPAT performance time (p < 0.01). Absolute VO2max and anaerobic fatigue resistance during WAnT best predicted CPAT performance (Adj. R2 = 0.817; p < 0.001). Performance on the ceiling breach and pull was the only CPAT task that was not significantly related to the physiological characteristics assessed. Measures of anaerobic and cardiovascular fitness best predict overall CPAT performance, and individual task performance. Remedial programs aimed at improving firefighting performance should target anaerobic and aerobic fitness qualities.

Download full-text


Available from: Ben F Hurley
  • Source
    • "It has been shown that various physical and physiological qualities are required to perform adequately during firefighting. Firefighting tasks are highly associated with muscle strength and endurance (Gledhill and Jamnik, 1992; Harvey et al., 2008; Henderson et al., 2007; Michaelides et al., 2011; Rhea et al., 2004; Sheaff et al., 2010; Williford et al., 1999), aerobic (Perroni et al., 2010) and anaerobic metabolism (Gledhill and Jamnik, 1992; Michaelides et al., 2011; Rhea et al., 2004; Sheaff et al., 2010; Williford et al., 1999). Moreover, wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) on top of fire-protective clothing increases physical demands of the occupation (Baker et al., 2000; Dreger et al., 2006; Eves et al., 2005; Louhevaara et al., 1995). "

    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015
  • Source
    • "Firefighters' muscular strength and endurance are well documented and significant univariate correlations or predictions with work capacity has previously been found [6], [26], [30]–[35]. Maximal grip strength [26], [30], [34], [35], standing broad jump [32], [35], push up endurance [31], [34], [35], 1 repetition maximum (RM) bench press [26], [31], [34], 1 RM squat [31], [34], and shoulder press endurance [30] are some of the simple field tests that have been correlated with firefighters' work capacity. Although a significant correlation between isokinetic knee flexion performance and carrying a stretcher over terrain has been documented among ambulance personnel [1], no study has investigated correlations between advanced laboratory tests and firefighters' work capacity as requested by Barr et al. [3]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Muscle strength is important for firefighters work capacity. Laboratory tests used for measurements of muscle strength, however, are complicated, expensive and time consuming. The aims of the present study were to investigate correlations between physical capacity within commonly occurring and physically demanding firefighting work tasks and both laboratory and field tests in full time (N = 8) and part-time (N = 10) male firefighters and civilian men (N = 8) and women (N = 12), and also to give recommendations as to which field tests might be useful for evaluating firefighters' physical work capacity. Laboratory tests of isokinetic maximal (IM) and endurance (IE) muscle power and dynamic balance, field tests including maximal and endurance muscle performance, and simulated firefighting work tasks were performed. Correlations with work capacity were analyzed with Spearman's rank correlation coefficient (rs). The highest significant (p<0.01) correlations with laboratory and field tests were for Cutting: IE trunk extension (rs = 0.72) and maximal hand grip strength (rs = 0.67), for Stairs: IE shoulder flexion (rs = -0.81) and barbell shoulder press (rs = -0.77), for Pulling: IE shoulder extension (rs = -0.82) and bench press (rs = -0.85), for Demolition: IE knee extension (rs = 0.75) and bench press (rs = 0.83), for Rescue: IE shoulder flexion (rs = -0.83) and bench press (rs = -0.82), and for the Terrain work task: IE trunk flexion (rs = -0.58) and upright barbell row (rs = -0.70). In conclusion, field tests may be used instead of laboratory tests. Maximal hand grip strength, bench press, chin ups, dips, upright barbell row, standing broad jump, and barbell shoulder press were strongly correlated (rs≥0.7) with work capacity and are therefore recommended for evaluating firefighters work capacity.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · PLoS ONE
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Physical capacity has previously been deemed important for firefighters physical work capacity, and aerobic fitness, muscular strength, and muscular endurance are the most frequently investigated parameters of importance. Traditionally, bivariate and multivariate linear regression statistics have been used to study relationships between physical capacities and work capacities among firefighters. An alternative way to handle datasets consisting of numerous correlated variables is to use multivariate projection analyses, such as Orthogonal Projection to Latent Structures. The first aim of the present study was to evaluate the prediction and predictive power of field and laboratory tests, respectively, on firefighters' physical work capacity on selected work tasks. Also, to study if valid predictions could be achieved without anthropometric data. The second aim was to externally validate selected models. The third aim was to validate selected models on firefighters' and on civilians'. A total of 38 (26 men and 12 women) + 90 (38 men and 52 women) subjects were included in the models and the external validation, respectively. The best prediction (R2) and predictive power (Q2) of Stairs, Pulling, Demolition, Terrain, and Rescue work capacities included field tests (R2 = 0.73 to 0.84, Q2 = 0.68 to 0.82). The best external validation was for Stairs work capacity (R2 = 0.80) and worst for Demolition work capacity (R2 = 0.40). In conclusion, field and laboratory tests could equally well predict physical work capacities for firefighting work tasks, and models excluding anthropometric data were valid. The predictive power was satisfactory for all included work tasks except Demolition.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · PLoS ONE
Show more