Active Versus Passive Cooling during Work in Warm Environments while Wearing Firefighting Protective Clothing


  1. Selkirk, G.A.
  2. McLellan, T.M.
  3. Wong, J.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Toronto, Toronto ONT (CAN);The Workplace Safety and Insurance, Toronto Ont (CAN)
This study examined whether active or passive cooling during intermittent work reduced the heat strain associated with wearing firefighting protective clothing (FPC) and self−contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) in the heat (35°C, 50% R.H.). Fifteen male Toronto firefighters participated in the heat stress trials. Subjects walked at 4.5 km·h-1 with 0% elevation on an intermittent work (50 min) and rest (30 min) schedule. Subjects exercised until rectal temperature (Tre) reached 39.5°C, or heart rate (HR) reached 95% of maximum or exhaustion. One of three cooling strategies, forearm submersion (FS), mister (M), and passive cooling (PC) was employed during the rest phases. Exposure time (ET) and total work time (WT) (min) were significantly increased during M and FS compared with PC (108.0 ± 3.59 and 78.0 ± 3.59). Furthermore, ET and WT were significantly greater in FS (178.7 ± 13.0 and 124.7 ± 7.94) compared to M (139.1 ± 8.28 and 95.1 ± 4.96), respectively . Rates of Tre increase, HR and were significantly lower during active compared to passive cooling. In addition, HR and Tre values in FS were significantly lower compared to M after the first cooling phase. During the first recovery phase, Tre dropped significantly lower during FS (~0.4°C) compared to M (~0.08°C) while PC increased (~0.2°C). By the end of the second rest period Tre was 0.9°C lower in FS compared to M. The current findings suggest that there is a definite advantage when utilizing forearm s

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Report Number
DRDC-TORONTO-SL-2003-072 — Scientific Literature
Date of publication
01 Aug 2004
Number of Pages
Reprinted from
Journal of Occupational and Environment Hygiene, vol 1, 2004, p 521-531

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