This research determined, under New Zealand operational conditions, the physiological
workload of some rural firefighting tasks. At the same time, the research measured fire
suppression productivity under real operational conditions. The project necessitated the
development of a novel suite of data collection equipment worn by the firefighter to record
visual, physiological and geographical information relevant to firefighting.
Results from the research indicate that rural fire suppression (and ignition) tasks are indeed
physically demanding. Average heart rates in excess of 120 beats per minute were recorded
in most tasks (water and hand tool mop up). Periods of extremely heavy workload with
heart rates above 150 beats per minute were experienced in all tasks.
An unanticipated benefit of intensive data collection from wearable devices at fires was that
it provides excellent training material. In addition, a method was developed using Google
Earth, to present the path of the firefighter in a 3D terrain model. This allows for a much
greater understanding of physical environment in which fire are fought in New Zealand.
Now that the data collection ensemble is mature the emphasis will be on enlarging the data
set with data collection at training and more real fires.