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UW Study Finds Heat Training Helps Wildland Firefighters

Joseph C. Stone, Albuquerque Fire Department

A University of Wyoming study finds that exposing wildland firefighters to heat may help them avoid heat-related illnesses.

The study involved firefighters walking on a treadmill in a 104 degree room. UW researcher Miranda Zamora-Williams said they monitored the firefighter's temperature and heart rate.

Firefighters that were exposed to the heated room repeatedly over a few weeks were able to keep their body temperature slightly lower than those who were not. Zamora-Williams said that's important since it makes them less likely to experience heat-related illnesses.

"Firefighters are really interesting, they're all the perfect mix of things that put you at risk for heat illness," she said. "A lot of them are seasonal workers so they're not training year-round and they're put into these situations where it's just fire season, suddenly. So they are at risk because they're not acclimated to the heat."

Zamora-Williams said training that incorporates heat will make work safer for wildland firefighters.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.

Ashley is a PhD student in Astronomy and Physics at UW. She loves to communicate science and does so with WPM, on the Astrobites blog, and through outreach events. She was born in Colorado and got her BS in Engineering Physics at Colorado School of Mines. Ashley loves hiking and backpacking during Wyoming days and the clear starry skies at night!
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