Researchers test firefighters in extreme heat, cold

Canadian researchers and firefighters hope to learn when firefighters' decision-making ability falters based on body temperature

By Jillian Follert
Oshowa This Week                             

DURHAM, Ontario — From scorching fires to frigid ice rescues, firefighters often encounter extreme conditions on the job.

New research underway at UOIT aims to make the profession safer, by examining how harsh conditions impact the body and mind. The local university has partnered with Toronto Fire Services for the project, with plans to come up with safer work practices for firefighters exposed to intense temperatures.

“We wanted to know, is there a line where our cognitive function and decision-making skills decrease? Is it gradual or do you hit a specific temperature and there is impairment?”says researcher Michael Williams-Bell, a PhD candidate in UOIT’s faculty of science. “For firefighters on the job, their core temperature just keeps rising. The gear is so restrictive, they can’t dissipate heat.”                           

Full story: When is hot too hot? UOIT research could make firefighting safer

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