Firefighters truly put their lives on the line to protect the community. In 2014 an estimated 63,350 firefighters were injured on the job.
The sound of a ringing bell and a blinking red light send Missouri’s brave firefighters out in a hurry, ready to battle any degree of dangerous fires in an attempt to save lives and property from the damaging effects of fire. Such hazardous working conditions put the lives and health of these brave men and women at risk, not only while they are on the job but even years after retirement.
Firefighter Work Injury Statistics
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) conducted research for the year of 2014. The data revealed that:
- 64 workplace related deaths occurred in the span of a year.
- Out of these, 37 reported deaths were caused due to pre-existing health conditions that were aggravated due to over-exertion and physical and mental stress caused by the nature of the job.
- 9 deaths were caused due to fire truck vehicle crashes caused by bad weather, inability to properly navigate traffic and difficult terrain, making it the second leading cause of firefighter fatalities.
- Explosions and fire were an obvious third cause of firefighter fatalities claiming five lives. Firefighters undergo rigorous training to avoid and maneuver around explosive materials like gas canisters, hair sprays, gas cylinders, ammunition for personal arms like guns, etc. that can explode.
- 3 deaths occurred due to falls from ladders and roofs and collapsing structures were responsible for 2 deaths. Such fatalities are caused by unsafe and unstable structures that suffer damage from the fire.
Workplace Related Firefighting Injuries
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) also produced a list of firefighting injuries caused in the year 2014.
- There were a total of 63,350 firefighting-related injuries.
- Out of these, 43% of injuries were a result of firefighting during emergency operations.
- 23% of the injuries were caused in non-emergency situations.
- 11% of the injuries were strains, muscle sprains, bruises and wounds caused at the time of training.
Risks of Firefighting
The immediate effects of injuries caused by firefighting include first to third degree burns, wounds and cuts that occur during a fire rescue operation, injuries caused during vehicular accidents.
However, firefighting is a profession that has long-term health consequences and it can affect workers even years after retirement. The most common are respiratory disorders caused due to inhaling smoke and burning chemicals. A close second is cancer caused due to exposure to harmful chemicals, then exposure to asbestos and neurological damage. As per the Environmental Protection Agency, with about 70 thousand toxic substances that can be present at a fire site, there can be 70,000,000 permutations and combinations of hazardous material that a firefighter can be exposed to.
Firefighters are expected to carry persons injured in a fire, they are expected to move heavy burning material around during an emergency evacuation. They also move heavy equipment like hoses, ladders, air tanks, etc. These lifting activities can cause them to injure or put stress on their backs and spines, causing long term damage. Back injuries account for almost 50% of injury related retirements.
The 2014 statistics reveal that firefighting is a dangerous industry with at least one in twenty firefighters suffering from a workplace injury.
Contact a St. Louis Work Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been injured at work, make sure you receive all of your rightful workers compensation benefits. To know more about your rights, contact a St. Louis work injury lawyer at the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann today. Call us at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online contact form to request a FREE consultation.