Firefighter health, wellness and fitness

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If you are a firefighter looking for tips to improve your overall health and fitness, or a fire department leader developing or enhancing a wellness-fitness program, these resources can help.

Cancer among firefighters

We are working with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on a research project to clarify the relationship between firefighter occupational exposures and cancer.

The findings of the first study phase were reported in an October 14, 2013 article (PDF, 768 Kb) published by the international peer-reviewed journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

After examining mortality patterns and cancer incidence among a group of U.S. career firefighters, researchers found that:

Learn more about our firefighter cancer study

Effects of sleep deprivation

It can be difficult for on-duty firefighters and emergency responders to get a good night’s rest. Being immediately awoken to attend calls during the night can result in sleep deprivation.

The U.S. Fire Administration teamed up with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and faculty from Oregon Health and Science University, to study the effects of sleep deprivation on members of the fire and emergency services.

Learn more about the study’s findings in a report and training videos on the IAFC website, including:

Health and wellness for the volunteer fire service

To address issues specific to volunteers, we worked with the National Volunteer Fire Council to develop a “Health and Wellness Guide for the Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services” (PDF, 2.1 Mb). The guide covers:

Respiratory diseases

Respiratory diseases remain a significant health issue for firefighters and emergency responders. The U.S. Fire Administration teamed with the International Association of Fire Fighters to study occupational risks of respiratory diseases due to fireground exposures and direct contact with the public.

The manual “Respiratory Diseases and the Fire Service,” (PDF, 6.1 Mb) helps firefighters and other emergency responders to understand diseases of the respiratory system, their causes and how to prevent them. It also assists health and wellness program managers in recognizing and quantifying the impact of, and developing strategies and programs for, occupational respiratory disease for firefighters, their families and fire departments.

Wellness/Fitness Initiative

The IAFC/IAFF Fire Service Joint Labor Management Wellness/Fitness Initiative (WFI), a project sponsored by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), is dedicated to developing a stronger fire service, starting with well and fit firefighters. Information is collected from fire departments in the United States and Canada to determine best practices and programs for committing to a wellness-fitness program.

Projects under the Initiative supported through funding from the U.S. Fire Administration include:

Recommended for fire departments: WFI Resource

The WFI Resource was developed by the IAFF and the IAFC under the Fire Service Joint Labor Management Wellness-Fitness Initiative.

The WFI Resource lets you search for successful wellness-fitness programs that you can learn from by fire department city and these Initiative components:

  • Medical.
  • Fitness.
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation.
  • Behavioral health.
  • Data collection.

Tools and ideas used by fire departments to justify costs and evaluate and implement a wellness-fitness program are also included.

Links of interest