FIREFIGHTERS need more protection because exposure to extreme heat puts them at higher risk of heart attack, a study revealed yesterday.
Research published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) showed that the physical exertion and extended exposure to extreme temperatures faced by firefighters raises the danger of them suffering heart trouble.
Previous research suggested that firefighters face the highest risk of heart attack of all the emergency services and it is the leading cause of death for those on duty.
The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, found that firefighters’ blood became “stickier” after they had participated in mock rescues and was 66 per cent more likely to form harmful clots.
“Participation in fire simulation training places an inordinate strain on the cardiovascular system,” the researchers wrote.
The BHF study also follows pension age changes for firefighters that were under 45 before April 2012, after they were transferred to an inferior pension scheme and told to work in the same physically demanding job until they are 60.
Researchers advised fire and rescue services to limit the amount of time firefighters spend dealing with a blaze and recommended extra support in helping them cool down and keep hydrated.
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said the results confirmed what the union had already known about its members’ increased risk of heart attacks.
He said: “Employers and firefighters themselves need to be more alert to these dangers.
“We will be using the study’s findings to increase awareness among our union’s reps so they can spread the word about what can be done to lessen the risks of heart attacks among firefighters.
“There can be no cutting corners when it comes to the safety of those who rescue people from fires.”