Physiological monitoring in firefighter ensembles: wearable plethysmographic sensor vest versus standard equipment

J Occup Environ Hyg. 2010 Feb;7(2):109-14. doi: 10.1080/15459620903455722.


We evaluated the accuracy of a wearable sensor vest for real-time monitoring of physiological responses to treadmill exercise. Ten subjects in standard firefighter ensembles, treadmill exercising at 50% VO(2) max, had heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR), skin temperature (T(sk)), oxygen saturation (SaO(2)), tidal volume (V(T)), and minute ventilation (V(E)) recorded concurrently by a wearable plethysmographic sensor vest and standard laboratory physiological monitoring equipment for comparison. A high degree of correlation was noted for most of the measured variables [HR (r = 0.99), RR (r = 0.98), T(sk) (r = 0.98), V(E) (r = 0.88), and SaO(2) (r = 0.79)]. V(T) (r = 0.60) had a moderate correlation, although a paired differences analysis showed a mean paired difference of -0.03 L. This mean paired difference represents a 1.92% variation for V(T). Data from the wearable sensor vest is comparable to data captured from standard laboratory physiological monitoring equipment on subjects wearing standard firefighter ensembles while exercising at a moderate work rate. This study demonstrates the accuracy of the wearable sensor technology for these physiological parameters under these conditions and suggests that it could be useful for actual field studies of firefighters in traditional firefighting gear.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Occupational Exposure / analysis*
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Respiratory Rate
  • Skin Temperature
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Tidal Volume


  • Oxygen