USFA, DOJ Initiate Emergency Vehicle Safety Study

Each year, approximately 25 percent of on-duty firefighter fatalities occur while responding to or returning from incidents, with the majority of fatalities resulting from vehicle crashes.

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)/National Institute of Justice (NIJ), has begun a study of emergent topics in emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety to assist in the development and demonstration of best practices for the emergency services. The International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) will conduct the study.

"USFA is committed to reducing the incidence of vehicle crashes and emergency responders being struck on the roadway as they are a large cause of on-duty fatalities," said Deputy U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines. "We are grateful for the U.S. Department of Justice's support of this important initiative which benefits both the fire service and law enforcement."

Each year, approximately 25 percent of on-duty firefighter fatalities occur while responding to or returning from incidents, with the majority of fatalities resulting from vehicle crashes. This represents a leading cause of firefighter fatalities—second only to heart attacks.

While this is a critical issue for the fire service, it is also an issue for the law enforcement community. Data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund shows that from 2001-2010, vehicle-related crashes—including motorcycle crashes and struck while operating on the roadway—were the leading cause of on-duty fatalities for U.S. law enforcement officers. These fatalities represented 43 percent of the total number of officers who lost their lives on duty during that time.

“Increasing safety for our law enforcement officers and firefighters is one of our highest priorities,” said John H. Laub, director of the National Institute of Justice. “We are delighted to work with our partners at the USFA to discover what works best to reduce deaths and injuries from vehicle crashes and being struck by vehicles.”

IFSTA Executive Director Mike Wieder said, “These types of injuries and fatalities are among the most preventable types for all emergency responders. IFSTA is grateful for the opportunity presented to us by the U.S. Fire Administration and the DOJ's National Institute of Justice to perform this study with the goal of reducing these losses.”

Further information on USFA's vehicle and roadway operations safety initiatives may be found on USFA's website.

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