More than half of firemen may be too fat to do their jobs properly, claim researchers.
Fire Service regulations call for staff to have high levels of physical fitness to cope with potentially dangerous situations. They need to be fit enough to climb stairs in high-rise buildings, carry unconscious victims, pitch heavy ladders and haul bulky equipment. But a body mass index study of 735 firemen by Loughborough University found 53 per cent were overweight and 13 per cent were obese.
The researchers carried out their study after it emerged obesity rates among firemen in the US were soaring, with 80 per cent classed as overweight or obese. In a report on their findings, published in the journal Occupational Medicine, the Loughborough experts said: 'Obesity among firefighters can present a hindrance to operational effectiveness. 'Given the negative implications of obesity for performance, there is a need for further investment in health promotion research and practice.' Previous US research found nearly half of all on-duty deaths among firemen were caused by heart disease. Although US firemen have the same rates of heart disease as the general population, job stress and coping with life-threatening emergencies every day put them at higher risk of a fatal heart attack.
Not only are obesity rates rising in the fire service, the researchers found, but they are already higher than among the general population. And while the popular image of firemen-themed calendars may portray them as toned, heroic hunks, the reality seems to be many are busy fighting the flab. When they first assessed the firefighters, in 2008, they found 11 per cent were obese and 54 per cent were overweight, the latest research shows that three years on things have not improved.
The report stated: 'Obesity among firefighters can present a hindrance to operational effectiveness.
'The proportion of firefighters who are either overweight or obese is lower in this UK sample than that found in US studies. 'But it was higher than that found in the general population. Given the negative implications of obesity for performance, there is a need for further investment in health promotion research and practice.' Previous research in the US has found nearly half of all on-duty deaths among firefighters are caused by heart disease. Although it found they had same rates of heart disease as the general population, the stress of the job and coping with life-threatening emergencies every day put them at higher risk of a fatal heart attack.
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This really surprised me, I have to say I have never seen a porky fireman, even though most of the ones I see in our area are retained brigade
If this is true (and I emphasise the IF) there is no excuse, as firefighters (the full time ones) have plenty of downtime between shouts to keep fit. I have seen multigyms in fire stations so they even get provided with the means to keep the weight off