Association between physical fitness and job performance in South African fire-fighters.
Aim. Accurate correlations between a wide range of physical fitness measures and occupational demands are needed in order to identify specific fitness tests and training needs for firefighters. Methods. Forty-eight experienced, professional firefighters (29 ± 7.24 yrs) participated in fitness and job performance testing sessions each spaced a week apart. Analysis was performed using Pearson moment correlation coefficients and multiple linear regression with alpha set at p≤.05. Results. Significant correlations (p≤.01) were found between a job performance task (Revised Grinder) and the following: lean muscle mass (r = -.69), overall fitness (r = -.62), height (r = -.62), strength endurance: deadlift (r = -.54), bent-over row (r = -.51), bench press (r = -.51), shoulder press (r = -.46); maximal strength: hand grip strength (r = -.57), bench press (r = -.51), anaerobic capacity: 400m (r = .50), and aerobic capacity: multistage shuttle run (r = -.46). Multiple linear regression determined that lean muscle mass and aerobic capacity account for 82% of the variation in the job performance task. Conclusion. It is apparent that firefighting taxes virtually all aspects of physical fitness. This data can help the exercise specialist choose appropriate tests and prescribe specific fitness programmes for firefighters. Traditional firefighter exercise programmes focusing mainly on cardiovascular fitness should be replaced with physical conditioning programmes that address all components of fitness. Cardiovascular fitness testing should include the performance of job-related tasks to improve test validity.