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Fighting with fire : how bushfire suppression can impact on fire fighters' health

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journal contribution
posted on 01.12.2007, 00:00 authored by Brad AisbettBrad Aisbett, Matthew Phillips, M Sargeant, B Gilbert, D Nichols
Background: Each year bushfire threatens Australia’s rural, forest, and urban-rural areas. Australia’s rural fire fighters work to curtail this threat in hot, smoky conditions, often at risk to their physical health. General practitioners, especially in rural areas, can help preserve the health of fire fighters during the fire season by understanding the stressors they face on the fireground.

Objective: This article outlines how the key fireground stressors of work intensity and duration, heat (from the weather, the fire, and the fire fighter’s own exertion) and smoke impact on the health of fire fighters. Practical advice for GPs treating Australia’s rural fire fighters is also included.

Discussion
: General practitioners can help preserve fire fighters' health during bushfire suppression in a number of ways, including: identifying fire fighters at risk of cardiac distress during physical labour and educating them about the early warning signs; advocating regular exercise; discouraging smoking; and promoting the benefits of maintaining fluid, carbohydrate, and electrolyte levels during a shift.

History

Journal

Australian family physician

Volume

36

Issue

12

Pagination

994 - 997

Publisher

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Location

South Melbourne, Vic

ISSN

0300-8495

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2007, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners