Occupational Health & Safety

NFPA Tallies 80,100 Line-of-Duty Firefighter Injuries in 2007

Fire departments in the Northeast had the highest injury rate in 2007 -- 4.9 per 100 fires, which was more than twice the rate for departments in the rest of the country, according to a "Firefighter Injuries for 2007" report in the NFPA Journal's November/December issue. Co-authors Michael J. Karter, Jr., senior statistician with NFPA's Fire Analysis and Research Division, and Joseph L. Molis, a fire data assistant with the Fire Analysis and Research Division and a lieutenant with the Providence, R.I., Fire Department, wrote that the 80,000 line-of-duty firefighter injuries nationwide in 2007 was a decrease of 4 percent from 2006. There were 16,350 injuries in 2007, 20.4 percent of the total, that resulted in lost time by the victim.

The major types of injuries sustained during fireground operations were strains, sprains, and muscular pains (45.1 percent); wounds, cuts, bleeding, and bruises (18.2 percent); burns (6.9 percent); and smoke or gas inhalation (5.6 percent). Strains, sprains, and muscular pain also accounted for 57.8 percent of non-fireground injuries. NFPA reported earlier this year that 103 firefighters died on duty in 2007.

The injury totals are based on survey data reported by fire departments.

NFPA estimates there were 13,450 exposures to infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, meningitis, and HIV, in 2007 (0.9 exposures per 1,000 emergency medical runs by fire departments during the year), while there were 28,300 exposures to hazardous conditions such as asbestos, radioactive materials, chemicals, and fumes (26.2 exposures per 1,000 hazardous condition runs in 2007), according to the report.

Karter and Molis report there were an estimated 14,650 collisions involving fire department emergency vehicles responding to or returning from incidents in 2007, which represents less than 0.1 percent of fire departments' 25.3 million incidents during the year. But the collisions caused 915 firefighter injuries, or 1.1 percent of all firefighter injuries, while the 665 collisions involving firefighters' personal vehicles in 2007 as they responded to or returned from incidents caused an additional 120 injuries.

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