Veteran Firefighters May Develop Heat Resistance
Study counters argument that aging impairs ability to combat flames
WEDNESDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Older firefighters appear to develop heat resilience due to their long-term exposure to hot temperatures on the job, according to a new study.
Researchers compared physically active firefighters and non-firefighters, about 51 years old, as they exercised in hot conditions. Compared to the firefighters, the non-firefighters reported higher levels of heat stress and felt that the workout was more physically challenging.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.
"If you have older workers who work in the heat, they are in a better position to handle working in the heat as compared to their non-heat-exposed counterparts," study author Glen Kenny, a professor at the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa in Canada, said in a journal news release.
"If they can better handle the heat stress, they can better perform challenging tasks without putting themselves at greater risks of injuries caused by impairments in mental function, alertness, concentration, motor dexterity and coordination," he added.
Kenny said the study findings are "especially important given recent findings that aging can decrease an individual's ability to dissipate heat and therefore work in hot environments."
The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has more about heat stress on the job.