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Task, Role, and Fire Engine Noise Levels During a Live Fire Training


Previous research has revealed that firefighters have an increased risk for noise-induced hearing loss; however, firefighters do not reach an 8-hr time-weighted average (TWA) of 85 dB. The high variability in occupational tasks and intermittent noise exposure of firefighters offers an explanation for the low 8-hr TWA. Our study evaluated specific occupational tasks, firefighting positions, and fire engine noise during a live fire training exercise. Researchers then identified the tasks and firefighting positions that presented the greatest risk to firefighters' hearing health. Firefighting positions were statistically significantly different (p = .04) in terms of decibel levels; we determined that the firefighter in the position of water pump operator experienced the greatest decibel level (91 dBA). Noise exposure while traveling in a response vehicle varied by the type of vehicle (p = .009), with the newest vehicle having the smallest noise level (81 dBA). Analysis of the data revealed that the occupational tasks with the highest noise levels were cleanup at the scene and cleanup at the fire station (88 dBA each).


  • Lynn R. Gilbertson, PhD, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
  • Donna J.H. Vosburgh, PhD, RS, Department of Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater
Volume#: 82.9
Page #: 22-26
Publication Month: May 2020

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