November 8, 2011 – Firefighters suffered 71,875 injuries in the line of duty last year, an eight percent decrease from 2009 and a two-decade low, according to the new report “U.S. Firefighter Injuries” issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The report takes a look at the number of 2010 firefighter injuries, injuries by type of duty, exposures to infectious diseases, and how a community’s size affects the number of injuries within a fire department.
“Firefighters work in varied environments under extreme conditions that increase their risk of on-the-job death and injury,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “This analysis helps NFPA and local fire departments gain a better understanding of how injuries occur so fire departments can implement the best solutions to minimize inherent risks.”
Key findings from the report include:
- An estimated 15,000 injuries, or 20.8 percent of all firefighter injuries, resulted in lost time from work in 2010.
- In addition to injuries, there were 11,200 exposures to infectious diseases and 25,700 exposures to hazardous conditions.
- The Northeast reported a higher number of fire ground injuries per 100 fires (sustained from structure fires, vehicle fires, and brush fires) than other regions of the country.
- Almost half (45 percent) of all firefighter injuries occurred during fire ground operations. An estimated 13,355 occurred at non-fire emergencies, 4,380 while responding to or returning from an incident, 7,275 during training activities, and 14,190 during other on-duty activities.
- The major types of injuries received during fire ground operations were strains, sprains, muscular pain, which were responsible for 52.8 percent of the injuries; wounds, cuts, bleeding, bruises, responsible for 14.2 percent; and burns, responsible for 5.9 percent.
- The leading causes of fire ground injuries were overexertion and strain, which was responsible for 25.7 percent of the injuries. Falls, slips and jumps were responsible for 22.5 percent.
- The number of fires a fire department responds to is directly related to the size of the population it protects and the number of fire ground injuries incurred by a department is directly related to the number of fires the department attends.
The following NFPA codes can be used towards improving firefighter safety:
- NFPA 1710, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments
- NFPA 1720, Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Volunteer Fire Department
- NFPA 1584, Standard on the Rehabilitation Process for Members During Emergency Operations and Training Exercises
Estimates from the report are based on data collected for NFPA’s Survey of Fire Departments for U.S. Fire Experience (2010).
About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s website at www.nfpa.org for more information.