Maximal oxygen uptake of Italian firefighters: laboratory vs. field evaluations
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The aim of this study was to compare the aerobic power of firefighters evaluated by means of laboratory and field tests. Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) of 15 Italian male firefighters (age: 31 ± 6 years; BMI: 24.7 ± 2.1) was compared during a graded incremental treadmill test to exhaustion and an endurance field test (Queen’s College step test) performed with and without wearing the protective clothing and the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) conditions. A 2 (conditions: with vs. without SCBA) × 2 (test setting: laboratory vs. field) ANOVA for repeated measures was used to verify significant differences (p < 0.05). Pearson correlation and 95 % confidence intervals were calculated. Despite differences (p < 0.01) emerged between Queen’s College step test with SCBA values and the other tests, no significant correlations were observed. The evaluation of fitness level is important to avoid the risks of job-related injuries, ensuring that physically capable personnel could perform this crucial public safety occupation. Thus, the present results demonstrate that specific fitness tests should be used for monitoring changes in firefighter’s health status and for guiding their training programme and that a periodic evaluation of firefighters can be performed in easy and accurate manner.