Firefighter SCA Study

Firefighting activity is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiac events. Kales and colleagues have shown that firefighters are 14 times more likely to suffer a sudden cardiac event following an alarm and 136 times more likely to have a sudden cardiac event after fire suppression activities (Kales et al., 2007). Therefore, we investigated heart rate responses to alarms and to working fires, and examined that data when firefighters were placed into categories based on age, BMI, and fitness level.

Cardiac instability (as measured by heart rate variability) is greater in older firefighters than younger firefighters at rest, potentially explaining some of the increased risk of sudden cardiac events in this group. Low-fit firefighters had greater cardiac instability at rest when compared with aerobically trained firefighters. There is a sudden and marked increase in heart rate in response to an alarm, and heart rate response is greater to a potential structure fire than other emergency calls. Peak heart rate responses to a strenuous fire call can reach high levels. We reported average peak values of approximately 160 bpm in our crosstrained firefighters, with individual peak values as high as 180 bpm.

Our data suggest that cross-trained, younger, and leaner firefighters are able to perform more work and thus achieve higher heart rates during strenuous firefighting activities.

To read the full report

I hope they did not spend a whole lot of money figuring that out.


About Dan White

I'm a retired Paramedic and EMS Instructor with 35 years EMS and emergency medical product experience. I love canoes, cars and EMS. I have written a lot about EMS Technology on the Paramedic Blog, the Insights on Innovation column for, on and I can be reached directly at 573-240-0002.
This entry was posted in EMS Research, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Firefighter SCA Study

  1. Noah Goodman says:

    Hi Dan,

    Do you do any consulting work? If so can you contact me at ngoodman(at) . we would like to talk with you about some issues related to EMS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s