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Did you know how firefighters get injured on the job??? By: Daniel Khalili & David Fogal Due: 2/22/10
INJURY DEFINED Injury: Physical damage that is suffered by a person and requires treatment by a practitioner of medicine (physician, nurse, paramedic, EMT) within one year of the incident (regardless of whether treatment was actually received), or results in at least one day of restricted activity immediately following the incident. Examples of injuries resulting from fire are smoke inhalation, burns, wounds and punctures, fractures, heart attacks (resulting from stress under fire condition), strains and sprains. (*20)
Heart attacks and internal trauma accounted for the majority of firefighter fatalities in 2004 (79 percent), but these categories for injuries accounted for only 2 percent of firefighter injuries…(*8)
Injury and Type of Property In 2004, 89% of Firefighter Injuries were related to structure fires. About 75% of those structure fires took place on residential property. In sum, structure fires on residential property gives a 68% rating for Firefighter injuries. Vehicle, outside, and other fires accounts for 11% of Firefighter injuries in 2004. (*9)
100- ~ ~ INJURY AND TYPE OF PROPERTY ~ ~ 90- 80- 70- 68% 60- 50- 40- 30- 21% 20- 11% 10- 0- Structure Fires Structure Fires Vehicle/ Residential Non-Residential Outside/ Property Property Other (*9)
Firefighter Injuries by Property Type, Structure Fires Only, 2004 RESIDENTIAL 1 and 2 Family Dwellings Multifamily Dwellings Other Residential (*10)
So what does this say about Structure Fire injury? Fires on one- and two-family dwelling properties accounted for 59 percent of all firefighter injuries in 2004. Multifamily property fires, primarily apartment and row/townhouse fires, accounted for 15 percent. Also, storage and stores/offices were the majority of non-residential property types. Due to the size, layout, and contents of the structure; they often result in substantial injuries. (*11)
…the injuries that resulted from an abandoned cold storage warehouse fire in Worcester, MA, in December 1999 in which 399 firefighters were injured. (*12) For Example….
While such mass injury incidents do occur, it should be noted that most of the time, a injury incident only involves one Firefighter. Additionally, these injuries do not result in the injured Firefighter taking any time off work. (*13) 100- 81.9% ~Firefighter injuries PER Incident ~ 80— 60— 40— 20— 12.7% 3.4% 2.0% 0— 1 2 3 >3
•Firefighters are 15 times more likely to be injured in structure fires than in non-structure fires. •With regard to confined fires (fire within a non-combustible container and no outside damage) Firefighter injury can be expected to be very low. •Career Firefighters experience a significantly higher loss in time off work due to injury than do volunteer Firefighters. (*14)
Cause of Injury Producing Fires 55% of fires that ended in Firefighter injury do not have enough information provided to assign a cause. (*15) On top of that, 69% percent of these “unknown cause” incidents occur on residential properties.(*15) It is of vital importance that these unknown cause incidents become determined. It is clear to see from the given statistics that civilian injuries (44 percent), is 21 percent lower than the 55 percent for firefighter injuries.(*15)
Causes Continued… Incendiary, Suspicious 12.6% Children Playing 0.5% Smoking 2.7% Heating 3.7% Cooking 3.2% Electrical Distribution 2.3% Appliances / AC 2.4% Open Flame, Ember, Torch 7.0% Other Heat, Flame, Spark 5.1% Other Equipment 1.6% Natural 2.8% Exposure 0.9% UNKNOWN 55%(*15)
SEVERITY OF INJURY 52 % result in no lost work time. 30 % of firefighter injuries result in lost work time with the bulk of these injuries (29%) moderate in severity. Less than 2 percent of injuries are severe or life- threatening. The severity of the injury was not specified for 18%of the reported firefighter injuries . (*16)
The factor of not how, but where, the injury occurs has a high unknown area. This is just above 20% !!!
Injury at incident outside above ground was found to be at 37%.
Injury at incident inside above ground was found to be at 35%.
Other areas, such as en route, inside vehicle, below ground, etc. where found to be at very low percentages. (*18)
Type of Injury Trauma was the leading nature of injury to firefighters in 1998. Sprains/strains and bleeding/bruise/cut/wound combined accounted for 44% of injuries. Burns and pain accounted for an additional 23%. Heart attacks, internal trauma, and asphyxiation combined represented 16% of injuries, although these accounted for 89% percent of firefighter fatalities. (*19)
FIREFIGHTER ACTIVITY AT TIME OF INJURYThree major activities that the firefighter performs on the scene accounted for 73% percent of injuries in 1998: Fire extinguishment (43%) Suppression support (22%) Miscellaneous at scene (8%) (*19)
TRENDS > From 1990 to 1999, total firefighter injuries have trended down –17% and fireground injuries –26%. > These improvements were driven by significant injury reductions since 1994. (*19)
FACT Injury Reduction can and has been made through proper channels of education, training, awareness, and implementation. Therefore, it can be rightly assumed that an even more positive trend can be made in the reduction of Firefighter Injury. While some injury is inevitable, most people think that injury reduction is too unpredictable. Facts show the opposite, Facts show the possibility of a safer future, if done so accordingly.