Our work aims to evaluate the health issues Fire instructors, fighters and new recruits are having, and subsequently identify how to reduce these issues. We have been working with the South East regional services and the Fire Service College for around 6 years. This work has been cited in the CFOA BAI Health Management guidance as important future research.

Over this period we have undertaken the following studies, which are at different stages of completion:

  • Published a pilot study demonstrating that Fire Instructor working practices are causing inflammatory responses and reducing immune function. Read the publication here


  • Undertaken a national survey of Fire Instructors and Firefighters on their health and working practices. The study is currently in press, but the summary findings are available to read here.



  • Conducted an evaluation of physiological responses to the different types of hot wears fire instructors’ experience, currently under review.

  • Conducted a study on pre-cooling methods prior to heat exposure for Fire Instructors. This study is in press in the journal of Applied Ergonomics. The findings indicate consuming 500ml of ice slurry 15min prior to heat exposure can reduce core temperature and thermal sensation, a more detailed summary is available to read here.


  • Collected data to quantify the heat tolerance of Fire Instructors of different career lengths and non-heat exposed individuals. Preliminary findings indicate instructors do develop a tolerance to heat, blood samples are being analysed to see if this has any impact on immune function.
  • Building a large set of data on immunological and inflammatory markers of Fire Instructors and Fire Fighters. This is to identify if the number of heat exposures recently completed is linked to changes in immune function and cardiac risk.


  • Working to identify a practical way to monitor physiological responses throughout fire exposures. We are involved with testing numerous physiological monitoring products with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service at the moment, in a year-long trial.


  • We have started a worldwide female fire fighter’s health survey in collaboration with Australia, Netherlands and the USA. If you wish to read more about this or complete the survey click here.


We have presented our work nationally and internationally and are working with fire services to ensure these findings are disseminated and used widely.

For more information about our work or to discuss future projects please contact us – a.j.richardson@brighton.ac.uk or e.r.watkins@brighton.ac.uk