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Prescribed fluid consumption and its effects on the physiology and work behaviour of Australian wildland firefighters
conference contributionposted on 01.01.2011, 00:00 authored by Jennifer Kate Raines, Rod SnowRod Snow, Aaron Petersen, J Harvey, Katrina Onus, Sarah Jefferies, David Nichols, Brad AisbettBrad Aisbett
The present study examined firefighters' ability to consume a prescribed fluid volume (1200 ml · h-1) during a wildland fire suppression shift and compare the effect of this additional fluid prescription with self-paced drinking on firefighters' hydration status and plasma sodium concentration post shift and their heart rate, core temperature and physical activity during their shift. Thirty-four firefighters were evenly divided into two drinking groups: self paced and prescribed. Prescribed drinkers did not meet the required 1200 ml·h-1 intake, yet they consumed twice the fluid drank by the self-paced group. No differences were noted between groups in plasma sodium levels or hydration status before or after their shift. Prescribed fluid consumption resulted in significantly lower core temperature between two and six hours into the shift. This did not coincide with lower cardiovascular strain, greater physical activity when compared to the self-paced drinking group. Additional fluid consumption (above self-paced intake) did not improve firefighter activity or physiological function (though it may buffer rising core temperature). It seems that wildland firefighters, at least in mild to warm weather conditions, can self-regulate their fluid consumption and work behaviour to leave the fireground hydrated at the conclusion of their shift.