Hydration Delivery Systems for Wildland Firefighters

by Domitrovich, Joseph Wiman

Abstract (Summary)
Maintenance of hydration during long duration work or exercise is critical for both physical and cognitive function. Wildland firefighters (WLFF) experience long arduous work shifts under extreme environmental conditions. Previous studies by our lab have demonstrated that maintenance of euhydration during fire suppression can be difficult. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of water bottle use vs. sipping hydration systems on maintaining hydration status and work output during fire suppression. Methodology: Twenty-seven wildland firefighters (m =18, f =9) in a cross over design used standard issue, 1 L water bottles (WB) on one day and a 3 liter sipping systems (SIP) on another day in a random order. Pre- and post-shift urine samples were collected and total urine void measured for determination of hydration status. Body weight was taken pre- and post-breakfast and again post-shift. Accelerometers (Minimitter, Respironics, Bend, OR) were worn in the left shirt pocket to continually record work output during fire suppression. During the work shift subjects consumed only water from their specific hydration system. At the end of the day each subject completed a subjective survey regarding the hydration system. Results: There were no significant pre- to post-shift changes in body weight between delivery systems (SIP=0.78±0.60 kg, WB=0.80±0.71 kg), urine specific gravity (SIP=0.005±0.011 g mL-1, WB=0.001±0.008 g mL-1), water consumed (SIP=3.41±1.86 L, WB=3.09±1.45 L) and urine output (SIP=1.87±1.06 L, WB=1.76±0.83 L). During the work shift there was no difference in hourly work output across the work shift between delivery systems. Subjects perceived that SIP system water was cooler water than WB. Discussion: For many years WLFF have used WB as their primary hydration method. Developments of SIP systems give WLFF the potential of using a different hydration system method. Our results demonstrate no differences in hydration status and work output between WB and SIP systems among WLFF during wildfire suppression. There were subjective differences in personal preference between water delivery systems. SIP systems are an alternative tool for use with WLFF, but in this study were no better than WB. Sponsored by a grant from the Missoula Technology and Development Center.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Steven E. Gaskill; Dr. Brent C. Ruby; Dr. Earle R. Adams

School:The University of Montana

School Location:USA - Montana

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:health human performance


Date of Publication:07/11/2007

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.