Illinois University to Study Influence of SCBA on Firefighter Metabolic Stress

CHAMPAIGN, IL - The University of Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) has learned that it will receive its fifth Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Fire Prevention & Safety Research and Development grant.  The grant for $996,505 will fund research on the combined influence of design and size of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) on firefighter’s metabolic stress and safety of movement.  

Firefighter slips, trips and falls, plus overexertion and strain injuries are leading causes of firefighter line of duty injuries, according to Dr. Gavin Horn, director of research for IFSI.  “This project will provide important information for firefighters, officers and department purchasing agents on the effects of alternate SCBA designs,” Horn said.  He added that decision-makers will be able to better assess SCBA design features that can impact firefighter safety.  The study’s results will also be valuable for those involved with risk management.

As part of a cross-campus initiative, Dr. Bo Fernhall of the university’s Kinesiology and Community Health department, along with Dr. Liz Hsiao-Wecksler of the university’s Mechanical Science and Engineering Department will be working with Horn in conducting the research. Also collaborating with the team is Dr. Karl Rosengren of Northwestern University’s Department of Psychology.     


This grant is the fifth IFSI has received as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Fire Prevention and Safety Program.  Earlier projects looked at the influence of firefighter personal protective equipment, as well as strenuous firefighting activities, on firefighter’s cardiovascular system.  The most recent DHS grant-funded project is examining the influence of an aspirin regimen on firefighter’s cardiovascular system.

The Illinois Fire Service Institute is Illinois’ fire academy. In addition to training provided at the Champaign campus, the Institute offers DHS grant-approved technical rescue, HAZMAT and NIMS training, hands-on fire officer training, online classes and conducts training throughout the state at Regional Training Centers and local fire stations. The mission of the Illinois Fire Service Institute is to help firefighters do their work through training, education, information and research.

For more information about the DHS-funded research, contact Dr. Gavin Horn at 217-265-6563.



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