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Summary of the Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service Report

Posted by Bryan on 6/16/2012 to Fire Fighting
Below is the summary of the Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service report by the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other emergency responders face danger everyday from exposure to smoke and toxins, deadly temperatures, and stress as well as issues surrounding personal protective equipment, vehicle safety, and personal health.

Although publicized firefighter fatalities are more often associated with burns and smoke inhalation, heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, account for the largest number of line-of-duty firefighter fatalities each year.

Both the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA) have been tracking on-duty firefighter fatalities since 1977. According to USFA statistics, 30 firefighters died in 2009 due to heart attack.

While sudden cardiac death is the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths among firefighters, other factors affecting firefighters’ health, wellness, and safety result in multiple deaths and injuries every year. The USFA has established goals to reduce loss of life among firefighters. In order to achieve this goal, emphasis must be placed on reducing the risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease as well as on the mitigation of other issues affecting the health and safety of the nation’s firefighters.

In an effort determine the specific issues affecting firefighter health and wellness, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) developed an online survey to determine personal health, well-being, and safety practices and perceptions among volunteer first responders. The survey was sent to NVFC members and to fire service personnel nationwide, with a total of 1,244 respondents. Of the individuals who completed the survey, 94.2 percent are currently or have in the past worked as volunteer firefighters. Analysis pertains to respondents who are current or were former volunteers.

While the response rate was impressive, it is important to note that the participating population was not a scientifically random sample, which means every member of the desired population did not have an equal chance of participating in the survey.

Please read NVFC.org's "Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service" for the full report.

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