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Fire Prevention & Safety Research & Development Grants - 2013 Grant Awards

This page contains information about Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Research and Development (R&D) Grant number EMW-2013-FP-00723.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) 2013 Data
Project Title:Worksite Exercise Interventions for Low Back Injury Prevention in Firefighters
Organization:University of South Florida
Principle Investigator:John Mayer, PhD
Grant Number:EMW-2013-FP-00723
Award Total:$1,265,501.00
Period of Performance:08/01/2014 – 07/31/2017
Grant Status:Active



Low back injury is one of the most common and disabling disorders in firefighters. Thus, novel interventions are needed to counteract the adverse consequences of this disorder and its impact on firefighter safety.


The purpose of this study is to assess the clinical effectiveness of back and core exercise interventions for low back injury prevention in firefighters. The study will compare the effectiveness of three worksite exercise interventions (supervised, web-based, control) to reduce lost workdays related to low back injury and illness in firefighters.


A cluster randomized controlled trial will be conducted in career, full active duty firefighters (n = 345) who will be randomly assigned (by fire station) to 1 of 3 exercise intervention groups - 1) supervised (n = 115), 2) web-based (n = 115), or 3) control (n = 115). All participants will perform back and core exercises previously tested in our recent FEMA-funded grant (EMW-2009-FP-00418), twice per week for 12 months while on duty, in addition to their usual physical fitness routine - The supervised group will be under direct supervision of certified exercise specialists, the web-based group will utilize a web-based exercise system, and the control group will exercise without supervision or access to the web-based system. Outcome measures include low back injury and illness data obtained and cross-checked from various sources, along with validated physical fitness tests.

Anticipated Outcomes

The hypothesis being tested is that the supervised and web-based interventions will reduce lost work days related to low back injury and illness by 40% and 20%, respectively, compared with control. Assuming positive results, this study will deliver the first evidence-based exercise intervention for low back injury prevention specifically designed for firefighters.

Last Updated: 
10/14/2014 - 15:43