Current Studies

FIREWELL is committed to conducting high-quality research to improve firefighter health and safety.


Project Title: The Firefighter Injury Reduction Enterprise: Wellness Enabled Life & Livelihood (FIRE-WELL)

Principal Investigator: MacDermid J

Co-Investigators: Barber D, Roche K, Baptiste S, Pysklywec M, Woodhouse L

Funding Agency: Canadian Institute of Health Research (Partnership for Health Systems Improvement)

Project Description: The goal of this project is to examine and characterize health problems identified by a musculoskeletal and functional performance screen. 293 firefighters answered surveys on their health and work at different timepoints (baseline, 6, 12 and 24 months). A subset of 150 firefighters underwent additional screening for musculoskeletal disorders; they also completed 2 simulated firefighting tasks (hose drag, stair climb with a high-rise pack). We will use mathematical models to determine prevalence and distribution of the illness and disability burden experienced by firefighters.

Current Status: Data Analysis & Report Writing


Project Title: Improving firefighter health and performance: development of individual injury prevention strategies by age and gender

Co-Principal Investigators: MacDermid JC, Sinden K

Co-Investigators: D’Amico R & Roche R

Funding Agency: Ministry of Labour

Project Description: The goal of this project is to understand how age and gender affect firefighter task performance, health outcomes and fitness indicators. We will survey 330 firefighters across Ontario to identify and characterize the problems and limitations they experience. A smaller group (n=100) of these same firefighters will perform two simulated firefighting tasks (hose drag and stair climbing with a high rise pack). While performing these tasks, we will obtain video images to analyze how they perform these tasks. We will also monitor blood pressure and heart rate to determine how fitness levels affect firefighters’ ability to perform these tasks. Mathematical models will help us to identify how gender, age and work environment affect: at-work limitations; the methods firefighters use to perform tasks and how fitness affects their ability to perform firefighting tasks. We will use the results to determine target areas for training and develop an injury prevention strategy that improves firefighters’ health and performance.

Current Status: Active Recruitment & Data Collection


Project Title: Establishing evidence-based tools to improve Firefighter work health: A TEAM approach

Principal Investigator: MacDermid JC

Co-Investigators: D’Amico R, Roche K, Sinden K

Funding Agency: Canadian Institute of Health Research (Operating Grant – Knowledge-to-Action)

Project Description: The goal of this project is to use our research results in tools that can be applied to improve health and safety for firefighters. We will build a video library showing how firefighting tasks are performed by firefighters of different age, gender and size. Using technology we will create an intelligent Physical Demands Analysis (PDA) and app/web resources that will allow firefighters to access information in response to individual work and personal characteristics, and indicates the movements required to perform their tasks. We will create a web-based Community of Practice (eCoP) which will provide firefighters information on best practices and allow them to interact with other firefighters and researchers.

Current Status: Active Recruitment & Data Collection


Project Title: FIRE-WELL: Firefighter Illness Remediation Enterprise: Work-Accommodations for Enabled Life & Livelihood

Principal Investigator: MacDermid JC

Co-Investigators: D’Amico R, Frewen P, Sinden K, Stock S

Collaborators: Pysklywec M, Scott L, Petersen S, Jamnik V

Funding Agency: Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) – Healthy and Productive Work Partnership Development Grant.

Project Description: The goal of this project is to bring together team members with strong links to firefighters and build a larger network of researchers, firefighters, disability managers, clinicians, union representatives, health and safety committees, employers and other stakeholders. The team will catalog all the health programs and health research that are specific to firefighting in Canada. We will then determine, by consensus, firefighters’ priorities for maintaining work participation. Then we will test prototypes interventions and processes that will meet their needs to maintain full active duty.

Current Status: Active Recruitment & Data Collection


Project Title: Firefighter burden of injury relative to specific fire response characteristics

Principal Investigator: Sinden KE

Co-Investigators: Hay J, MacDermid JC

Funding Agency: The Council of Canadian Fire Marshals & Fire Commissioners and The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

Project Description: The National Fire Incident Database (NFID) will be used to improve our understanding of the relationship between fire ground characteristics and firefighter injuries as it varies throughout Canada. The overarching purpose of the research is to review and analyze NFID data to determine how fire ground characteristics such as firefighter personal attributes, personal protective equipment, fire characteristics and fire casualties relate to firefighter injuries throughout Canada. We anticipate the results from this research will be critical to developing and implementing strategies specific to fire ground tasks and to the individual firefighter.

Current Status: Data Analysis


Project Title: Adapting Firefighter TEAM-Feedback Modules to Context: Building Capacity in Firefighter Injury Prevention

Principal Investigator: Sinden KE

Co-Investigators: Hay J, MacDermid JC, Carnahan H, Brazil A

Funding Agency: Canadian MSK Rehab Research Network

Project Description: The goal of this pilot project is to determine whether tools designed to prevent musculoskeletal injuries in Hamilton firefighters can be adapted by other fire services (Thunder Bay, St. John’s, Prince Edward Island) to reduce the impact of MSK injuries. In Phase 1, we will identify the types of MSK injuries experienced by firefighters in each of the fire services. In Phase 2, we will meet with firefighters to determine whether our previously developed physical demands analysis (PDA) applies to their work environment. In Phase 3, we will meet with firefighters to determine whether existing modules that provide ergonomic feedback called “TEAM-Feedback” are relevant to address the identified MSK problems. The outcomes and tools developed from these pilot studies will form the basis for further studies that will determine whether these approaches have long-term impacts on firefighter MSK health.

Current Status: Not yet recruiting


Project Title: Adapting the Tools for Modified Work for Workers with Musculoskeletal Disorders for Firefighters

Principal Investigator: Stock S

Co-Investigators: Sinden K, MacDermid JC, Cote J, Dionne C, Vezina N, Ross C, Didane O

Funding Agency: Canadian MSK Rehab Research Network

Project Description: The goal of this pilot project is to adapt the “Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders: Guide and Tools for Modified Work (TMW)” for the special work context of firefighters. We will identify the specific work demand challenges facing firefighters with a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) that influence return to work and selection of modified duties. We will review the existing TMW and identify which sections need to be modified to better meet the specific needs of firefighters with MSD. The TMW guide and tools will be adapted to the needs of firefighters will be developed and presented to focus groups of firefighters and their managers in Quebec and Ontario for comments and suggestions for improvement. This revised firefighter TMW guide and tools will be produced in both English and French and will be tested nationally in future research projects.

Current Status: Not yet recruiting