Illinois Fire Service Institute receives Department of Homeland Security grant

The Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI) has received a grant from the Department of Homeland Security‘s Assistance to Firefighters Fire Prevention and Safety (DHS FP&S) program. The award of $899,269 will fund research to find improved means of reducing heart attacks in firefighters–the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths–and slip, trip and fall injuries–the leading sources of line-of-duty injuries.

This project will provide a better understanding of the effect of fire fighting on the cardiovascular system, as well as the biomechanics of movement (balance and gait). In addition, the study will investigate the ability of novel personal protective equipment (PPE) concepts to counteract the deleterious effects of fire fighting activities on the cardiovascular system and biomechanics. Finally, the research team will test several predictive measures that may one day provide firefighters with an improved measure of their cardiovascular health and risk for heart attacks.

The “Cardiovascular and Biomechanical Responses to Fire Fighting and PPE” research project is designed to investigate the relationships between cardiovascular function, biomechanics and the design of personal protective equipment. Results of this research and recommendations will be distributed broadly throughout the fire service, with the intention to help decrease fatalities and injuries and improve firefighter safety and performance. Researchers will recruit 120 firefighters to participate in fire fighting drills at the Illinois Fire Service Institute while collecting cardiovascular and biomechanical data. The project is expected to last one year.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign-based research team brings together the Illinois Fire Service Institute, the Departments of Kinesiology and Community Health, Psychology, Mechanical Science and Engineering, and the College of Medicine, plus two industrial partners, Total Fire Group and International Personnel Protection. Together, this team will develop and investigate personal protective equipment designs that will offer practical and effective solutions. Dr. Gavin Horn and Professor Denise Smith will lead the research.

The Illinois Fire Service Institute is the statutory fire academy for the state of Illinois. In addition to training provided at the Champaign campus, the Institute offers online classes and conducts training throughout the state at Regional Training Centers and local fire stations. The mission of the Illinois Fire Service Institute is to help firefighters do their work through training, education, information and research.

For more information about the research project, contact Gavin Horn at 217-265-6563.

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