Reaction Time to Visual Stimulus in Firefighters and Healthy Trained Subjects: A Preliminary Comparative Study

Fabrizio Perroni1, 5, *, Eric Mol2, Anthony Walker3, Calogero Alaimo1, Laura Guidetti4, Lamberto Cignitti1, Carlo Baldari4, 5
1 Italian Fire Fighter Corp, Roma, Italy
2 Firefighter Performance, Baarn, The Netherlands
3 ACT Fire & Rescue Service, Canberra, Australia
4 Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, Italy
5 Faculty of Psycology, eCampus University, Novedrate, Como, Italy

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2018 Perroni et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this authors at the Italian Firefighters Corp, Piazza Scilla 2, 00178, Roma, Italy, Tel: +39 0664492155; Fax: +39 0664492155; E-mail:



In order to stay safe, and to successfully complete their work, firefighters have to constantly assess and process large numbers of sensory stimuli and adapt to the inherent risks present in the working environment.


The purposes of the present preliminary study were to analyse the speed of Reaction Time responses (RT) of Italian Firefighters and to compare their cognitive responses with non-firefighting subjects.


Anthropometric (weight, height and BMI) and RT (time-to-completion –TTC-, mean of reaction time –MRT-, and errors made -E-) evaluations were administered at 16 volunteers (Age: 40.3 ± 6.7 yrs; BMI: 23.8 ± 2.3 kg/m2) divided in Firefighters (FG) and Control (CG) groups. RT test consisted of 3 trials (T1 = 1s of stimulus duration and 1s interval between stimulus and the other; T2 = 0.5s of stimulus duration and 1s interval between stimulus and the other; T3 = 0.5s of stimulus duration and 0.5s interval between stimulus and the other). Mann Whitney U test between groups was applied to asses differences (p ≤ 0.05) in TTC, MRT, and E while Friedmann test and Dunn-Sidak post hoc were used to evaluate significant differences in the 3 trials in each variable of each group.


No significant differences based on anthropometric parameters were observed between groups. Despite no significant differences emerged for TTC and MRT between groups, we observed significant differences in E between groups (CG = 4; FG =12) and in the 3rd condition in each variable of each group.


Workout programs that integrate reaction time training with job performance should be created to increase job performance.

Keywords: Fitlight trainer, Stimulus, Cognitive responses, Errors, Decision making, Training.