USF study works to prevent firefighter injuries

The University of South Florida is showing progress in a firefighter based exercise study they funded this May. The study spans four departments, including St. Pete, Temple Terrace, Tampa and Hillsborough County.

This study utilizes five exercises to strengthen firefighter’s lower backs and core in hopes of reducing the risk of injury.

Firefighters carry approximately 75 pounds in gear alone, though this number can rise to over 100 pounds when additional gear is needed for a call. This weight in addition to the need to respond quickly puts firefighters at a higher risk for back injuries and chronic back pain.

St. Petersburg Division Chief of Safety and Training, Joseph Bruni has seen his fair share of these injuries throughout his work in the department.

“We have about 50 to 55 injuries a year in a department of this size of 350 personnel,” Bruni said, “and the leading injuries that we see are back and knee injuries”

Bruni who completes the exercises himself speaks highly of the study and what it has accomplished for him.

“It’s helped a great deal as far as my back feels and at the age that I’m at now and the years that I have on the job,” Bruni said. “The exercises that I’ve been doing here in the study has helped substantially.”

While the potential for the final Fall 2017 results are too soon to tell Principal Investigator, John Mayer can attest that what they have accomplished so far is working.

“Anecdotally we have some evidence to support that the exercises are indeed helping the firefighters with their job and to prevent back injuries,” Mayer said.

The next installment of this study can be seen later in this year as the research team pushes towards the potential for national implementation.