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Applied Ergonomics 32 (2001) 399}406

An evaluation of physiological demands and comfort between the use
of conventional and lightweight self-contained breathing apparatus
A.J. Hooper *, J.O. Crawford , D. Thomas
Industrial Ergonomics Group, School of Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK 
West Midlands Fire Service, Lancaster Circus Queensway, Birmingham B4 7DE, UK
Received 21 April 1997; accepted 2 January 2001

Abstract
The additional physiological strain associated with the use of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is mostly linked to the
additional weight. Lightweight and conventional SCBA were assessed in a submaximal step test performed in full "rekit (total weights
15 and 27 kg, respectively). Factors assessed were: comparative energy expenditure of the two sets, relationship between comparative
energy expenditure and aerobic "tness and subjective discomfort. Measured variables were: oxygen consumption, heart rate,
estimated VO
and subjective discomfort (body part discomfort scale). The lightweight SCBA displayed a signi"cant oxygen 

consumption bene"t, which was independent of dynamic workrate and valued at 0.256 l min\. Mean heart rate responses were
signi"cantly lower with the light set. No relationship was found between comparative energy expenditure and aerobic "tness. The
light set was rated as signi"cantly more comfortable than the heavy. Further research is required to assess the extent of the energy
consumption bene"t in realistic "re suppression protocols and the contribution of ergonomic factors to the energy and comfort
bene"ts.  2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Fire "ghters; PPE; Oxygen consumption

1. Introduction
The physically arduous nature of "re "ghting has been
well documented. Many studies, both simulated and in
the "eld, have measured work loads at 60}80% of maximal oxygen consumption (VO
) and up to 95% of 

maximum heart rate (HR ) (Lemon and Hermiston, 

1977; Manning and Griggs, 1983; O'Connell et al., 1986;
Romet and Frim, 1987; and Sothmann et al., 1992).
This physically demanding pro"le is due not only to the
environmental stressors faced, but also to cumbersome
equipment used by "re personnel, most signi"cantly
breathing apparatus (BA). Studies assessing the physical
stress associated with "rekit and breathing equipment
(with weights between 20 and 30 kg), have shown signi"cant increases in oxygen consumption, heart rate and
ventilation rate, as compared with exercising without

* Corresponding author. Tel.: #44-121-414-4240; fax: #44-121414-3958.
E-mail address: j.o.crawford@bham.ac.uk (A.J. Hooper).

equipment (Louhevaara, 1984; Borghols et al., 1978;
Sykes, 1993; Love et al., 1994; Donovan and McConnell,
1998).
UK Fire Brigades almost exclusively use open circuit
self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) to supply
"re-"ghters with respirable air (Love et al., 1994). A review carried out by Louhevaara (1984) identi"ed four
parameters a!ecting physical work performance with the
use of SCBA: additional breathing resistance; external
dead space; added weight of the apparatus and "tness of
the individual.
Added inspiratory breathing resistance is negligible,
due primarily to the positive pressure under which modern SCBA operates (Louhevaara, 1984; Louhevaara
et al., 1984). However, the e!ects of expiratory resistance
are appreciable*leading to a reduction in ventilation,
with consequent hypoventilation due to a reduction in
tidal volume (Gee et al., 1968; 0.5 kPa at 2.01 s\). Nevertheless, e!ects on VO
and exercise tolerance seem 

only to be signi"cant at breathing resistances higher than
those of modern SCBA (Cerretelli et al., 1969; Demedts
and Anthonisen, 1973; Louhevaara, 1984).

0003-6870/01/$ - see front matter  2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 0 0 3 - 6 8 7 0 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 0 0 7 - 2

Louhevaara et al... . 15. Additionally. 1996). 1992). Therefore. heart rate and ventilation rate at submaximal exercise levels (Borghols et al. Traditionally. that strap and harness design is often poor. Kelman and Watson. the length of those measured in the study ranged from 386 to 457 mm. 1. 1984. those BA sets which produced lower moments of inertia for either static or dynamic movement. Harnessing was also examined and 24. Biomechanical analysis of six types of BA found that it was not only the weight of the set that could cause high moments of inertia but the position of the cylinder relative to the centre of gravity of the individual. (1984). Indeed. 1984.3% reported problems from backplate discomfort due to lack of contouring and padding.. were found to have fewer problems associated with the weight of the set from the questionnaire survey data. in no way removes or diminishes the importance of physical conditioning (a personal factor) as a means of ensuring there is an emergency reserve.J. found that ventilation rate was elevated when the external dead space was greater than 50 ml. Sykes. Design of SCBA In addition to weight. 1984. On examination of the dimensions of the backplates.7% had problems with the size of the sets. 1993)..5 to 45. the area producing most weight. Love et al. p. this issue raises fundamental questions regarding the use of lightweight breathing apparatus.. and secondly a reduction in VO (at  tributed to the serious hindrance to maximal ventilation caused by SCBA. 24. The backplate design was also considered in this work.. Lind and McNichol. 1983. Gordon et al..0 ml/(kg min) (Lusa. 1994). management of both equipment and personal factors are important in order to reduce the physiological demands of "re. In his (1984. ranging from 33. 1993. submaximal exercise whilst breathing through external dead space has been shown to cause an approximately linear increase in ventilation rate. Bizal and Kamon (1984). Louhevaara. 1994). Given that the amount of dead space introduced in modern full-face mask SCBA is approximately 90 ml. (1984) found that all the respirators tested caused hyperventilation due to a large dead space due to rebreathing of expired air. Furthermore. the e!ects could therefore appear signi"cant. (1994) reinforce the view of Louhevaara et al. Despite the di$culties of accurately measuring the dead space associated with respiratory devices (Stromberg et al. In fact. but examphasise the detriment caused by twisting and loosening of straps rather than the alterations in breathing pattern observed during exercise. (1994) in a questionnaire survey and biomechanical analysis identi"ed a number of issues with regard to BA use.400 A. However. 1968. From the study by Love et al.e. as illustrated by the &&ecological'' model of "re-"ghting activities proposed by Reichelt and Conrad (1995).   This is explained by a dual e!ect."ghting.5 1 min\ (44 ml/(kg min) for an 80 kg man) for heavy work lasting longer than 20 min using SCBA. 1994). i. Love et al. From the questionnaire. 1973.1. From the questionnaire to 1026 "re "ghters (response rate 76. there is some evidence that the increase in oxygen consumption associated with the use of SCBA is less for those individuals who are "tter (Louhevaara et al. "rstly increased oxygen consumption as compared with no SCBA at a given workload.. Thus it would be recommended that for any SCBA set.3%). These are primarily concnered with the ergonomics of the user-equipment interface. introduction of lightweight apparatus (as an equipment factor) as a means of reducing physiological loading. / Applied Ergonomics 32 (2001) 399}406 The study by Louhevaara et al. ergonomics attempts to adapt the working environment and equipment to "t the user. 1978. (1994).5% had problems with harnessing material and tangling of straps. (1984) make a recommendation of at least 3. The weight of SCBA equipment is clearly important from a physiological point of view. The sample surveyed for the questionnaire used 10 di!erent types of BA. through increased tidal volume (Bizal and Kamon. 1984).5% of respondents had problems with the weight of the BA sets and 23. Recommendations have repeatedly been made with regard to aerobic capacity requirements for "re "ghting. concern has been expressed that many "re-"ghters do not achieve these levels (Sothmann et al. Sykes. these two issues are entirely separate. Given that environmental factors (such as heat) are unchangeable. This was based upon the observation that SCBA results in a sharp rise in percentage VO at a given workload. Love et al. should be placed as close to the centre of gravity as possible. Their model splits the determinants of the physiological stress of "re-"ghting activities into: external environmental factors. In this particular case advocating lightweight SCBA could potentially be interpreted as contradictory to recommendations for improvements in aerobic "tness amongst "re-"ghters and a maintenance of "tness levels achieved during initial training through out extended "re-"ghting careers. Hooper et al. However. a number of other factors would seem to have some bearing on the physical demand placed on the wearer of SCBA. the cylinder. This range is greater than the anthropometric dimensions cited in the report indicating that the backplate length is too long for the majority of users and a recommended length would be 380 mm with a 20 mm adjustment each way (Love et al. equipment factors and personal factors. Carrying additional weight (in a shoulder mounted harness) has been shown to give rise to signi"cant increases in oxygen consumption. in particular its shoulder harness). 278) review Louhevaara concluded that `the extra weight of the SCBA was found to cause almost all the additional strain measured during submaximal exercisea. Louhevaara.

although statistical signi"cance of these differences could not be demonstrated (Manning and Griggs.J.A. Benexts of lightweight SCBA The expected bene"ts of lightweight SCBA can be summarised as follows: lower physiological strain and energy expenditure with consequent increases in &&emergency reserve'' with respect to physical work capacity and extended working times (due both to a longer time to fatigue and extended cylinder duration through a reduction in physiological loading). The study found that there was no dangerous load during the exercise unless improper techniques were used through fatigue or lack of training and recommendations suggested that the exercise should be carried out with a straight back and no bending of the lumber spine (KuK pper and Haisch. the use of a fairly low intensity. 2000). Although training is given in terms of the postural impact of BA in the UK.2. one would expect the level of discomfort for a given backplate and harnessing con"guration to be lower through reduction in pressure points and thoracic restriction. energy expenditure (oxygen consumption). The toroidal shaped pressure vessel alleviated the need of a backplate on the apparatus design and reduced the biomechanical loading due to its position lower on the back.. Sothmann et al. Only two previous studies have directly addressed the question of the bene"t of lightweight breathing apparatus (Manning and Griggs. 401 (15 kg)). heart rate and ventilation rate. A study conducted by Sykes (1993) demonstrated the bene"ts of lightweight cylinders (6. there are times during "re-"ghting tasks when good posture may not be achievable. Sample characteristics Twenty-two professional "re "ghters volunteered to take part in the study (physical characteristics given in Table 1 below). Huck (1991) found the greatest restriction to movement was caused not by clothing design rather by the con"gurations of SCBA equipment and harnessing. Method 2. With the use of non-standard shapes for air containment. bulky equipment such as SCBA. it is obvious that a reduction in the weight of the SCBA set will reduce the physiological loading on individual "re "ghters. Although secondary to the weight of such equipment. This study was carried out because of complaints of lumbar back pain after training. (lasting just under 2 min).5. 1997). Sothmann et al.1. subjective comfort and the interaction between energy expenditure and aerobic "tness while using a lightweight SCBA set (10 kg) and the currently used conventional weight set (22 kg). Additionally. The researchers modelled the load on the lumber spine during the Schlaghammer exercise. Equipment Equipment used included a wooden step (height 20 cm). 1. in assessing alternative designs of "re"ghting uniforms. a Polar 3000 Heart Rate Monitor and a metronome. This. However. The tests were conducted under time pressure and consequently the maximum heart rates were re#ective of maximal e!ort in all conditions. as compared with more conventional weight sets (12. 2. discontinuous tasks (Manning and Griggs. there may well be a further means of reducing the biomechanical stress on those wearing SCBA. 1983). however. 11 and 9 kg).. . regardless of equipment con"guration. Hooper et al. 1992). / Applied Ergonomics 32 (2001) 399}406 Other advances in terms of cylinder shape have included the development of a toroidal `doughnut shapeda pressure vessel by DERA (DERA News. They revealed no signi"cant di!erences between the three test conditions (no SCBA. The study of Manning and Griggs monitored the heart rate responses of "ve "re "ghters performing a simulated anaerobic "re-"ghting exercise. the literature clearly points to improvements in interface design and ergonomics consideration as being important in determining the level of physiological strain associated with heavy. 1993). 10 kg) and a conventional steel cylinder (22 kg). Additionally. The SCBA used for testing were a lightweight composite cylinder (carbon "bre wrapped. Any bene"t of lighter equipment would more likely be re#ected in a reduction of the time for task completion. Sykes. 1990.3. 1983. Firekit (minus gloves and anti-#ash hood) added an additional 5 kg in weight. is probably due to the type of testing protocol employed*being anaerobic in nature. continuous treadmill protocol must be questioned in its ability to realistically model actual "re-"ghting activities. A more recent study examined the lumbar spine loads reached during training exercises wearing SCBA (KuK pper and Haisch. a TEEM 100 metabolic analyser.5 kg) in respect of oxygen consumption. 2000). The aim of this study was to compare physiological strain (heart rate).2. all subjects rapidly achieved maximum heart rates which were maintained for the remainder of the test.15 m. which involves pulling down on a load of 250 N from a height of 2. 1983. light SCBA (7 kg) and heavy SCBA 2. All completed a health and lifestyle questionnaire and a consent form prior to taking part. Aims of the study From previous research. 1. since these have been repeatedly documented as involving varying intensity.

19 3. The protocol was of an interval type (to model the discontinuous nature of "re "ghting) with four or "ve stages (dependant on heart rate of the participant) of 4 min duration.30 4.30 3.96 40.stepping rate (steps/min). This formula allowed participants to work at the same workrate although their body weights and actual stepping rates were di!erent (step height remained constant in all cases). Two subjects had to complete both SCBA conditions on the same day. Each subject completed all the conditions.68 39.86 1. The "rst condition was a &&baseline'' test (performed in standard issue trousers and T-shirt and standard issue shoes or training shoes).72 1.4.0 77. 2.08 2.30 15. and as such it was considered no less representative than treadmill walking.72 1.26 1.60 19. This condition comprised "ve submaximal stages and served two purposes.42 20.0 85.23 4.69 1.67 19.0 77.0 73.76 1.50 18.26 30.36 41.35 4.52 43.97 51.0 75. the initial three stages allowed for comparison to SCBA and "rekit conditions.33 19. These conditions comprised four stages: one for the purposes of warm-up and three for comparative purposes. the addition of two more stages of increasing intensity made estimation of VO more accurate.42 28.40 36.88 1.step height (m) .78 1.0 67.74 1.40 3. 2.04 39. 350 and 400 kg m/min.0 81.73 $8.D.73 1.03 3. at each stage of each condition were calculated on the basis of the following formula (Heyward.61 1.50 26.0 79.07 80.70 13.5 89.76 $0.12 3.19 2.30 48.0 80.29 43.88 54.71 3.75 38.54 34. The   second and third conditions were performed in "rekit and light or heavy breathing apparatus.22 4.52 43.98 24.0 98.5 74.25 3. Test protocol Insurance and equipment restrictions meant the protocol had to utilise a stepping activity and be of submaximal type.00 38. Subjects rested for 24 h between conditions.66 26.74 1.0 79.78 57.31 17.68 20. However.25 3.28 2.59 17.0 92.0 98.90 15.94 3. Experimental design and procedure There were three conditions to the experiment.28 3.44 36. 4 min rest between each stage and increasing intensity through increased stepping rate. / Applied Ergonomics 32 (2001) 399}406 Table 1 Physical characteristics of the participants Subject Sex (M/F) Age (Years) Height (m) Weight (kg) Bodyfat (%) VO   (l min\) VO   ml/(kg min) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 M M M M M F M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M M 46 32 26 26 40 21 27 41 42 29 26 33 33 36 33 35 32 40 45 25 54 42 1.71 6.86 82.0 23.06 45.68 16.0 75.71 3. Secondly.76 1.12 4. The last two workrates of the session were set to attain an .5 77. stairs and ladders are regularly part of "re-"ghting activities.93 20.58 54.84 1.J. Subjects were presented with the bodymap immediately after completion of each test and asked to rate discomfort in terms of numbered body parts and a numeric scale. The order of the tests was randomly assigned to each participant.77 45.87 1. due to the nature of the shift system operating.489 $0.51 45.29 4.51 34. c1imbing objects. Firstly. separated by 4 h.04 3.55 18.85 3.40 40.72 1. Hooper et al.5 79.83 1.08 40.0 71.74 1. Readings for heart rate and oxygen consumption were averaged over the last minute of each stage.0 73. All participants completed the "rst three stages of the baseline test at 300.3.50 34.31 Mean $S. respectively.402 A. Discomfort was assessed at all stages of the SCBA testing by use of a body part discomfort scale (BPD) based on Corlett and Wilson (1992).14 $8.80 45.00 3.68 1.75 26.75 1.77 1. Stepping rates for each subject.78 1. 1991): Workrate (kg m/min)"weight (kg).0 80.

44. Heart rate responses The mean heart rate responses for all subjects are shown in Fig. 3. Typically.J.A. 1 and Table 2 below.00l. henceforth Groups 1 and 2. Also. p'0. body mass index and age. Group 1 carried out the experiment whilst carrying the SCBA set (measured variables: heart rate and oxygen consumption).36. Group 2 carried out the experiment whilst wearing and breathing through the SCBA set (measured variable: heart rate).   F "259. Pairwise . Equipment enabling analysis of expired breath whilst subjects breathed through the SCBA could not be obtained for the study. workrates were set at 500 and 600 kg m/min. p(0. Results 3. 350 and 400 kg m/min. The two groups were matched as far as possible with each other for height. p(0.1. respectively) but no overall   di!erence due to group (F "0. A three way ANOVA was performed omitting the baseline data and showed signi"cant e!ects due to kit and worklevel (F "16. weight.05). This allowed some measurements to be taken in fully operational mode (wearing and breathing).69. Hooper et al. heart rates are higher with heavy SCBA than 403 light SCBA in all cases. The sample was thus split into two groups (each containing 11 subjects). Heart rates for Group 2 (wearing) are higher than for Group 1 (carrying) in all cases. The two SCBA sets were tested using the same protocol at workrates of 300.00 l. / Applied Ergonomics 32 (2001) 399}406 appropriate level for estimation of VO but to stay   within 90% of predicted maximum heart rate.

24 18. composite cylinder (F "35.98 0. Table 2 Physiological variables measured at 400 kg m/min Group 1 carrying Group 2 wearing Variable Lightweight Conventional Lightweight Conventional Average HR (beats/min\) $S. 1.57.98 78 2.250 62 139. % HR  VO (l min\)  $S. for light and heavy SCBA. which when considered in con  junction with inspection of the data indicates a larger di!erence in physiological strain at higher worklevels.0 l). 3. Fig.175 55 144.67 17. 2. p(0.245 0.3.26 74 1. 2 and Table 2 show the mean oxygen consumption whilst carrying SCBA for Group 1. Oxygen consumption and aerobic xtness Predictions of VO were made for each subject on   the basis of the baseline data using regression analysis.06 82 * * * .D. Mean oxygen consumption (carrying SCBA).2. The only signi"cant interaction proved to be that between kit and worklevel (F "7.05). however.15.  comparisons between selected combinations of means (highest and lowest worklevels. % VO   137. In this case.33 17. This "nding was supported by   pairwise comparisons of two selected combinations of means (highest and lowest worklevels for light and heavy SCBA). the interaction between kit and worklevel was found not to be signi"cant (p'0. 3. Mean heart rate data for both groups in all conditions. Fig. Group 1 carrying SCBA oxygen consumption Fig.39 13. p(0. both groups) within each of the two groups established the di!erences between light and heavy conditions to be signi"cant at the 5% 1evel.00 l).11 75. revealing signi"cantly reduced oxygen consumption with the lighter.D.5 * * * 151. The data were analysed using ANOVA.

4. None of the regressions were signi"cant at the 5% 1evel. in turn with the di!erences in oxygen consumption and heart rate. Hooper et al. However. although the study of Sykes (1993) similarly used volunteers. Discussion wearing of "rekit. using heart rate as a measure of overall physiological strain in the absence of emotional stress. although given the di!ering exercise modalities employed in these studies (treadmill walking as opposed to stepping) comparisons must be made cautiously. cannot be discounted in this case. 3. 3.01). 1984. a more rigorous examination of these parameters would be required in order to draw any "rm conclusions. This is in broad agreement with the "ndings of Borghols et al. given that Sykes used only seven subjects. the data appear to con#ict. 1987) and as such.. regressions were performed to investigate the relationship amongst the sample of age and oxygen consumption di!erence between light and heavy SCBA sets. The data are presented in Fig. &&exercise economy''. Bodypart discomfort data These data were analysed as follows: all scores related to parts of the body not a!ected by the BA set-body interface (e. These estimates of aerobic "tness were then compared. The remaining scores were aggregated to give a score of total discomfort due to BA set. Louhevaara et al. Additionally.90). p(0. the so-called. aerobic xtness and age 4. Matching of groups and the very small variation between mean heart rate responses in the baseline condition o!er some support for the claim that they respond equally to exercise. Physiological ewect of breathing resistance and dead space The non-sign"cance of group as a main e!ect in the ANOVA comparing carrying and wearing equipment would indicate no e!ect due to increased breathing resistance and dead space. thighs and calves) were omitted. Thus. Thus. Sothmann et al. 1992). Oxygen consumption shows the bene"t to be independent of workload. 4. Increased thermal stress during exercise in "rekit is well known (Skoldstrom. (1978*33. but these comparisons are merely collective. however. It is possible. A nominal value can thus be given for this saving: based on the highest workrate this value is 0. However. both in terms of heart rate response and oxygen consumption.3. Given that all subjects had voluntarily consented the possibility of some form of self-selection process cannot be discounted. the average . As such. where large numbers of "re "ghters have been mandatorily tested (e.0 ml/(kg min) in the Sykes' study is   in excess of the average level that has been repeatedly quoted in other studies. however. using correlation and regression. the average VO of 58. uncontrolled inter-individual variation due to the between-subjects nature of this variable casts doubt upon any inferences made. Comparison of mean bodymap scores. not individual.5 ml/(kg min)) and Sykes (1993*0. the increased level of heart rate may be due to the impact of increased thermal stress from the The data provide no evidence to support the "ndings of Sykes (1993) in respect of the relation between aerobic "tness and oxygen consumption bene"t. for Group 1 and the entire sample. 4. 22ml/(kg min) or 76 kcal h\*based on a non-protein respiratory quotient of 0. These results were little improved when the highest common baseline workrate (600 kg m min\) was used as a secondary indicator of aerobic "tness.256 l min\ (approx. This lack of relationship is unlikely to be due to a small sample size.1. that the sample used in the study was unrepresentative.J. A signi"cant di!erence between the scores for the light and heavy SCBA sets (H"713.g. When considering the relationship between these bene"ts and workload. Again none of the results were signi"cant. That is.. / Applied Ergonomics 32 (2001) 399}406 Fig. this con#ict is resolved when consideration is given to the unspeci"c nature of heart rate as a cardiovascular strain response as compared with the direct relationship between oxygen consumption and energy produced within the body during aerobic exercise.g. the di!erence in physiological strain between using the lightweight SCBA set and the conventional SCBA set while wearing "rekit is greater at higher workloads in ambient temperatures of 203C to 263C.404 A. while heart rate response shows greater bene"ts at greater workloads. the bene"t in terms of energy expenditure is consistent through all the workloads. although the di!erence in overall physiological strain appears to be greater at higher worklevels. 3.38 l min\). The relationship between benext of lightweight SCBA. Moreover. In contrast. with no signi"cant di!erence found between kit and worklevel. 4. Physiological loading and energy expenditure benext The data presented above show clear bene"ts of lightweight SCBA over conventional weight SCBA. respectively.2.

McGraw-Hill..71$6. 405 6. . Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank the West Midlands Fire Service and Judy Wilson of Interspiro for their help and co-operation.L. 1986). 4. Nevertheless. In this case the interaction between SCBA and other protective equipment including clothing will continue to be an issue. these results require validation with respect to realistic simulation or "re suppression protocols (such as those employed by Sothmann et al. However. is far more representative. Hooper et al. in order to optimise energy consumption bene"ts and to minimise hindrance to physical activities. consideration still has to be made of the position of the load on the back. However. since submission of the paper.A.1. better pro"led backplate (resulting in improved biomechanics. References Astrand. may well surpass initial outlay costs. A textbook of work physiology: physiological bases of exercise. This is also a requirement under the PPE Regulations (HSE. Sci.256 l min\. (1992). The issue is further complicated by consideration of the relative inaccuracy of the submaximal method used in the present study to estimate VO as compared   with more reliable tests (up to 10}15% according to Astrand and Rodahl (1986).O. However.2. Discomfort and SCBA design The lightweight set displayed a clear advantage over the heavier set.. Not only does this raise questions regarding the population validity of the VO estimates. This also has implications for the ecological validity of such results when generalising to actual "re-"ghting tasks. Further research 6. "re "ghters will need to continue to improve and maintain "tness levels. any comparison involving VO across exercise modalities   must be made cautiously. Med. This does have "nancial implications in that the costs of "bre wrapped cylinders are estimated at double the price of conventional steel cylinders. such as cylinder attachment and backplate pro"ling. some combination of these factors produced a considerably improved user}equipment coupling. Practical implications The energy consumption and comfort bene"ts of lightweight SCBA have been quantitatively established in the laboratory setting using exercise tests. their long-term bene"ts in terms of reduction of physiological loading in terms of both weight and biomechanical stress and possible increases in emergency reserve.4. backplate length and harnessing design. The e!ect of treadmill exercise and imposed airway resistance on breathing waveform shape factors. allowed the redesign of other components. Love et al. There is clearly a need for further investigation in this area. Bizal. 1986. backplate design and harness design di!ered considerably between the two sets. Sports 16. the lightweight set proved to be signi"cantly more comfortable than the conventional. / Applied Ergonomics 32 (2001) 399}406 "gure of the present study (43. The development of new SCBA or other lighter weight respiratory protection may also bene"t others involved in work or leisure pursuits including diving or where work requires them to carry respiratory equipment. Kamon. London.. this bene"t was shown to be independent of workload and was valued at 0. but it also casts some doubt over the   validity of the regression results. the main "nding was that lightweight breathing apparatus resulted in lower energy expenditure than conventional weight cylinders during submaximal exercise. since cylinder attachment. 6. P. However.. Additionally. Of major interest was the lack of any relationship found between energy consumption bene"t and aerobic "tness: this contradicts previous research which found that bene"ts were greater for those who were less "t. 5. Additionally. 1992) where all equipment must be assessed for compatibility with other protective equipment and its "tness for use. Furthermore. C.J. This further reinforces the suggestion that for the moment. regardless of the equipment they are using. K. through reduced moments of inertia about the base of the spine) and less cumbersome harnessing. such as a slimmer. 179. Although future designs may reduce the need for a backplate. (1994) and Donovan and McConnell (1998).3 l ml/(kg min)) although still above the accepted population average. Rodahl. Ergonomic assessment of SCBA There is a need for the assessment of equipment}user interface factors of lightweight SCBA. It is likely that the reduced weight as well as having its own comfort bene"ts. It is possible that more in-depth consideration of these factors could result in even greater energy consumption and comfort improvements for lightweight sets. this bene"t cannot be attributed solely to the reduced weight. Conclusions As expected. E. given the specifcity of this measure to the form of exercise concerned (Astrand and Rodahl. 1984. the majority of UK Fire Services either have evaluated or are using lighweight SCBA.

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