Firefighter instructors at higher risk of cardiac events

Firefighter instructors at higher risk of cardiac events

A study from the UK has found that firefighter instructors have an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, infection and illness.

The study from the University of Roehampton, London, UK, found that instructors can be exposed to multiple fires every month, which can lead to chronic inflammation, triggering the risk of ill health. According to the research, firefighter instructors, typically face as many as five to 10 times the number of live fires in comparison to the staff they are training.

The findings were gathered by measuring blood samples, blood pressure and psychological data from 136 UK Fire and Rescue Service personnel. This also included from Breather Apparatus Instructors (BAI).

High BAIs reported a number of symptoms including fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches and flu-like illnesses, which the report linked to systemic inflammation. The study is the first to report that these symptoms are consistently seen in high BAIs.

While systemic inflammation can increase the risk for potential cardiovascular events, high BAIs were also identified as being more at risk of cardiac events, such as heart attacks. This is because they are typically exposed to more physically demanding tasks, encapsulating personal protective equipment and extreme heat environments which puts them at higher risk.

Dr Emily Watkins, lead researcher of the study, said: “By evaluating the impacts of fire exposures across a six month period, this is the first research to identify that firefighters, particularly firefighter instructors, are reporting chronic and consistent symptoms of illness and inflammation. Based on this evidence, it’s imperative that fire services carefully evaluate and limit the number of exposures their staff face and review working practices to ensure instructor’s health is being prioritised.”