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Original research
Individual responses to the implementation of mandatory fitness testing within a fire department


Objectives To examine the effects of implementing a consequential fitness assessment (pull-ups, curl-ups, push-ups, 3 min step test) in a fire department on an individual level.

Methods We used a repeated-measures design to analyse fitness assessment data from 2019 to 2020 in Northern Virginia. A total of 631 professional firefighters completed the fitness assessment in both years. Repeated measures analysis of variances (ANOVAs) and multiple regression modelling were used to examine the effects of the fitness assessment and factors associated with changes in fitness, respectively.

Results Overall all aspects of fitness improved over the first year of implementation with a majority of firefighters improved on all components of the fitness assessment except for pull-ups (16.1% improved). Greater levels of baseline fitness and being female were negatively associated with changes in all fitness measures. Older firefighters had smaller changes in pull-up, curl-up and push-up performance.

Conclusions During the first year of fitness assessment implementation, the fire department generally improved. The findings suggest that fire departments which enforce mandatory fitness assessments must establish policies for dealing with inadequate performance and offer resources to aid individual firefighters.

  • Firefighters
  • Physiology
  • Occupational Health

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Data are available on reasonable request to the corresponding author.

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