Factors that contribute to preventable firefighter deaths

Recent study highlights the importance of SOPs in preventing firefighter fatalities

Posted: April 26, 2018

binder of safety procedures

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.

Research takeaways

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

This research article is available through our library by contacting netclrc@fema.dhs.gov. Interested readers may be able to access the article through their local library or through the publishers’ websites.

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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As such, the content does not reflect any official positions, policies, or guidelines on behalf of the sender, the U.S. Fire Administration, FEMA, DHS, nor any other federal agencies, departments or contracting entities. Similarly, this summary does not represent in any manner an official endorsement or relationship to any private or public companies, organizations/associations, or any authors or individuals cited or websites associated within the article.

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