Eighty to 100 firefighters die in the line-of-duty each year, in most cases from either cardiovascular events or traumatic injury. Researchers recently looked at National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) firefighter fatality reports to try to identify factors that tended to contribute to preventable line-of-duty deaths.
The study authors first focused on fatal incidents involving personal protective equipment (PPE), seat belts and poor physical condition. For these incidents, they looked at how several demographic factors or incident characteristics may have played a role. These included age, gender, years on the job, weather conditions and type of department.
In a second comparison, the authors looked at firefighters who lacked training, medical clearance or experience versus those who did not have those factors implicated in their deaths. In these comparisons, the authors looked at whether the department had appropriate protocols and standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place or not.
These preventable line-of-duty deaths require firefighting leaders to ensure that standardized protocols are in place and followed and that firefighters are safety-conscious in all conditions and circumstances.
Learn more about this research
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Kahn, S., Palmieri, T., Sen, S., Woods, J., Gunter, O. (2017). Factors Implicated in Safety-related Firefighter Fatalities. Journal of Burn Care & Research: Vol 38 (1), e83-e88.
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: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times