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Assessment of Portuguese Firefighters’ Needs: Preliminary Results of a Pilot Study

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Advances in Ergonomics in Design (AHFE 2019)


Firefighter’s job tasks require intensive physical work and involve a range of movements in a wide variety of hazardous environments and thermal conditions. It is thus critical that personal protective equipment allows firefighters to perform their duties with minimal limitations and maximum safety. However, many studies have shown concerns regarding turnout gear fit and comfort. This paper presents preliminary results of an in-progress study, for which the main goal is to develop design solutions to Portuguese firefighters’ protective equipment. With the aim of identifying specific needs from this population, a pilot study was conducted in northern Portugal. Data were collected through an online survey and a semi-structured interview, which allowed a deeper understanding of issues encountered. Findings from this pilot study served as a guide to adjust the study and provided insights to recommend an ergonomic redesign of firefighters’ gear.

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  1. 1.

    Also called bunker gear or turnout ensembles.

  2. 2.

    In Portugal, career firefighters usually volunteer in their Brigade and/or other brigades.

  3. 3.

    The Fire Brigade shares the territory protection with another smaller Fire Brigade.

  4. 4.

    According to a participant, career firefighters have priority over volunteers, as they use their equipment more frequently. All the participants that are volunteers wear available turnout ensemble from former firefighters.

  5. 5.

    Self Containing Breathing Apparatus.


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We would like to acknowledge the 2C2T – Science Center for Textile Technology from University of Minho. This work is financed by FEDER funds through the Competitive Factors Operational Program (COMPETE) POCI-01-0145-FEDER-007136 and by national funds through FCT-Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, under the project UID/CTM/000264 and by Fundo às Vítimas dos Incêndios de Pedrógão.

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Correspondence to Anna S. P. Moraes .

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Moraes, A.S.P., Carvalho, M.A.F., Boldt, R.S., Ferreira, F.B.N., Griffin, L., Ashdown, S.P. (2020). Assessment of Portuguese Firefighters’ Needs: Preliminary Results of a Pilot Study. In: Rebelo, F., Soares, M. (eds) Advances in Ergonomics in Design. AHFE 2019. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 955. Springer, Cham.

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  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-20226-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-20227-9

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