Fire Prevention & Safety Research and Development Grants - 2010 Grant Awards

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This page contains information about Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Research and Development (R&D) Grant number EMW-2010-FP-01606. The content is useful for those in the fire service seeking information about to how to improve the safety and health of firefighters.

Fiscal Year (FY) 2010

Fire Prevention Grant
Project Title: Effect of SCBA Design & Fire Fighting Induced Fatigue on Balance, Gait and Safety
Organization: The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Principle Investigator: Gavin Horn, Ph.D
Grant Number: EMW-2010-FP-01606
Award Total: $999,596.00
Period of Performance: 07/9/2011 – 07/08/2014
Grant Status: Active



The two leading causes of fireground injuries in the Fire Service are slips trips and falls, and overexertion/strain. The design of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), including size, weight and geometry can have an impact on these injuries. This project will provide important information for firefighters, officers and purchasing agents to more fully understand the effects of firefighting activities and alternate SCBA designs on metabolic stress and safety of movement, which will have substantial implications on the risk for these injuries.


This project will study the impact of self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) size, weight and design, on firefighter metabolic stress and safety of movement (balance, gait and situational awareness) before and after simulated firefighting activities. Identifying the interactions between SCBA design and changes in firefighters' physiology and biomechanics during fire fighting activities holds promise to reduce the risk for fireground injuries.


Using state-of-the-art energy expenditure measurements, motion capture technology and novel balance, gait and obstacle crossing assessments, we propose to study: 1) the effect of firefighting SCBA design (conventional air cylinder versus prototype designs), and 2) SCBA cylinder size [30-minute, 45-minute and 60-minute] and how these factors impact metabolic stress from simulated firefighting activities of different durations.

Projected Results and Conclusions:

SCBA designs that reduce the center of mass displacement of the firefighter will result in smaller deficits in safety of movement and less metabolic stress during fire fighting activities than conventional SCBA design, which will lower the risk of slip, trip and fall injuries and the risk of overexertion/strain injuries. Furthermore, the increased weight from extended duration SCBA will produce significantly greater metabolic stress and larger deficits in safety of movement when compared to conventional design 30-minute SCBA air cylinders and therefore increasing the risk of injuries.


Illinois Fire Service Institute Receives Fifth DHS Grant, Fire Engineering, July 2011

Last Updated: 
10/09/2014 - 10:17
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