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Monday, December 17, 2018

Report: U.S. Firefighting Injuries in 2017

Firefighters are more likely to be injured
on the fire ground, according to NFPA data.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has released their report on U.S. firefighting injuries in 2017. The report looks at all firefighter injuries based on the type of duty the firefighter was performing when the injury occurred.

Overall injuries were down 5 percent from the previous year and at the lowest number since 1981 when NFPA first began analyzing this data.

The report states, “firefighters were more likely to be injured at fire ground operations than at other types of duties.” The League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, (LMCIT) data has a few more categories for fire ground injuries, but it continues to be where most of our firefighter injuries occur as well, and it is also where most of our work comp cost is incurred. The report cites overexertion or strain and “falls, jumps and slips” as the leading nature of fire ground injuries. Again, the LMCIT has a few different categories but this aligns with our trends.

Eighteen firefighters died in vehicle-related incidents in 2017 according to the national data, including 10 who were struck by vehicles and eight who died in vehicle crashes. Ten fatalities due to being struck is unusually high, as the average for the past 30 years is four per year. While the numbers are small it speaks to the increasing dangers of responding to incidents on the roads and highways.

The discussion of the correlation of fire ground injuries with the number of fires the department responded to made sense. However I did not expect the rate of fire ground injuries to change so dramatically based on the population size protected. From the report, “the difference in risk of injury per firefighter is 8 to 1 between communities of 1,000,000 and communities of 2,500 to 4,999.” One of the factors impacting this is larger departments attend 572 times as many fires as small departments.

The report concludes with this challenge: “A risk management system and the application of existing technology, however, can offer options to reduce present injury levels and bring about corresponding reductions that are recommended by NFPA that could be taken at the local level.”

Read the NFPA report: United States Firefighter Injuries 2017

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