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ACE Firefighter Environmental Stress Workshop

ACE combines its environment chambers with the specialized knowledge and expertise of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology's Kinesiology program and Durham College’s Fitness and Health Promotion program to teach firefighters how their bodies react under environmental stress. Participants will utilize technology to gather and measure the participants’ physiological responses throughout all of the evolutions. Acquiring this data will enable participants to see how their bodies react, where they need to improve, and what techniques they can use to ensure optimal performance during real-life, high-stress rescue situations.

Workshop learning outcomes

  • Learn how to stay calm and think clearly in adverse environmental conditions.
  • Discover how your body reacts cognitively and physically to environmental stress.
  • Increase your chance of success in real-life emergency situations.

Workshop Evolutions


This evolution requires you to don your personal protective equipment and self‐contained breathing apparatus, advance a hose line, perform a forcible entry task, and then conduct a primary search and rescue. You will perform this evolution to simulate the job tasks that would be required of you when first arriving at a fire scene. The first two tasks were performed in a cold environment while the primary search and rescue was conducted in 60°C, very humid conditions. This environmental stress has a significant impact on your body, causing higher heart rate and elevated breathing rates. It also makes it difficult to rid yourself of the heat being produced by your own body. 


This evolution requires you to ventilate a building by cutting holes in a 30 x 30 cm (2 x 2 feet) section in the roof while working in winter conditions. You will also perform exercises on a stationary bike, and perform a mannequin drag in the cold. This exercise was designed to give you the experience and an understanding of how your self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) will operate when the outside conditions are extremely cold, and the effect of physical stress on your heart rate, breathing rate, and consumption of air from your SCBA cylinder. It is also important to experience the many ways in which your equipment reacts negatively to cold temperatures so you have no surprises in an emergency situation. 

Evolution 3: Dynamic CPR Training

This evolution allows you to take your cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to the next level: you will perform life‐saving skills in the back of an ambulance that will simulate the movements expected on a municipal road during the swift, unpredictable drive to a hospital’s emergency room. This simulation will allow you to deal with unexpected first aid situations while staying calm in a complex, stressful and physically demanding situation.