Firefighter Injuries Down Eight Percent from 2009: NFPA

The report takes a look at the number of 2010 firefighter injuries, injuries by type of duty, exposures to infectious diseases, and how a community’s size affects the number of injuries within a fire department.

Firefighters suffered 71,875 injuries in the line of duty in 2010, an eight percent decrease from 2009 and a two-decade low, according to the new report, “U.S. Firefighter Injuries” issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The report takes a look at the number of 2010 firefighter injuries, injuries by type of duty, exposures to infectious diseases, and how a community’s size affects the number of injuries within a fire department.

“Firefighters work in varied environments under extreme conditions that increase their risk of on-the-job death and injury,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of communications for NFPA. “This analysis helps NFPA and local fire departments gain a better understanding of how injuries occur so fire departments can implement the best solutions to minimize inherent risks.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • An estimated 15,000 injuries, or 20.8 percent of all firefighter injuries, resulted in lost time from work in 2010.
  • In addition to injuries, there were 11,200 exposures to infectious diseases and 25,700 exposures to hazardous conditions.
  • The Northeast reported a higher number of fire ground injuries per 100 fires (sustained from structure fires, vehicle fires, and brush fires) than other regions of the country.
  • Almost half (45 percent) of all firefighter injuries occurred during fire ground operations. An estimated 13,355 occurred at non-fire emergencies, 4,380 while responding to or returning from an incident, 7,275 during training activities, and 14,190 during other on-duty activities.
  • The major types of injuries received during fire ground operations were strains, sprains, muscular pain, which were responsible for 52.8 percent of the injuries; wounds, cuts, bleeding, bruises, responsible for 14.2 percent; and burns, responsible for 5.9 percent.
  • The leading causes of fire ground injuries were overexertion and strain, which was responsible for 25.7 percent of the injuries. Falls, slips, and jumps were responsible for 22.5 percent.
  • The number of fires a fire department responds to is directly related to the size of the population it protects and the number of fire ground injuries incurred by a department is directly related to the number of fires the department attends.

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