Page 7 - November 2021
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Past Master Bruce Hoad follows one of our Trust’s Grants
heat chamber at the purpose-built Welkin Laboratories and perform a range of physical tasks. Their physiological responses are then measured and analysed. Not only will this understanding help inform female firefighters how best to prepare for fire exposures throughout their career, it will better equip their employers to adequately assess the risks to their firefighters in the execution of their duties. The results of the study are expected to inform a national guidance report.
Vice-Chair of the Trust, Past Master Bruce Hoad, was appointed by trustees to act as the Trust’s ambassador to the University. He subsequently accepted an invitation to visit the University, just before the first lockdown, to view the facilities and to discuss the research project with Dr Richardson and his team. Trustees have since been provided with a copy of the team’s initial report.
Dr Alan Richardson said “Females make up about 7% of firefighters in the world, yet little research has been done on their health and well- being. We are incredibly grateful to the Worshipful Company of Firefighters for supporting this work”.
In response, Bruce commented “The Trust is delighted to be able to support this incredibly important piece of work. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the University, and we hope that this is just the start of a long and productive association between ourselves.”
To view the University’s initial report, please follow this link:
 Past Master Bruce Hoad (left) and Dr Alan Richardson (right)
As we know, traditionally the Fire and Rescue Service has been a male- dominated industry, but since the 1980s there has been a significant increase in the number of women employed as firefighters in the UK. As the number of women in the workforce has increased, gaining a comprehensive understanding of how the physical stresses and demands of firefighting affect them has become a priority, but the service lacks the facilities and expertise to conduct the specialist research that is needed.
In order to help meet that need, Dr Alan Richardson and his team at the University of Brighton conducted an international survey which provides the first comprehensive snapshot of the physical issues facing women firefighters. The survey, which was distributed to over800womenfirefightersin14 countries, revealed that one quarter of women firefighters believe that their menstrual cycle affects their response to fire exposures. Key issues raised included
fatigue, pain/discomfort and altered thermotolerance. 39% of perimenopausal and menopausal women firefighters reported that alteration in thermoregulation is having an impact on their working life.
Back in 2019, the Charitable Trust received and approved an application for grant funding of £5,000 from the University to support Dr Richardson and his team, enabling them to follow up on some of the issues identified by the survey and examine them in more detail. Working principally with volunteers from Women in the Fire Service UK, with the support of the National Fire Chiefs’ Council and the Fire Brigades’ Union, the team has examined female firefighters’ thermoregulation during different menstrual stages and in menopause, and also considered what effect the taking of oral contraceptives may have. The research requires female firefighters, wearing full PPE, to walk into a specially designed
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Past Master Bruce Hoad WCoFF Charitable Trust

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