NFPA: Firefighter Injuries Lowest Since 1981

The number of firefighters injured on duty – an estimated 69,400 -- last year was the lowest since 1981.

That was the conclusion of NFPA researchers who released their annual firefighter injuries analysis Thursday.

“In recent years, the number of firefighter injuries has been considerably lower than they were in the 1980s and 1990s, but this is due in part to additional questions on exposures which allows us to place them in their own categories. Previously some of these exposures may have been included in total injuries under other categories,” NFPA analysts wrote.

They noted that the number of firefighters hurt in 2012 was a one percent decline from the previous year; and the lowest since they started tracking incidents in 1981.

Looking at statistics submitted by departments, they estimated there were 8,150 exposures to infectious diseases (e.g., hepatitis, meningitis, HIV, others) in 2012. This amounts to 0.3 exposures per 1,000 emergency medical runs.

 They also believe there were 19,200 exposures to hazardous conditions (e.g., asbestos, radioactive materials, chemicals, fumes, other) in 2012.

 An estimated 14,350 injuries or 20.6% of all firefighter injuries resulted in time off duty in 2012.

Other pertinent findings included

• 31,490 or 45.4% of all firefighter injuries occurred during fireground operations. An

estimated 13,820 occurred during other on duty activities, 4,190 while responding/returning from an incident; 7,140 during training activities, and 12,760 occurred at non-fire emergency incidents.

• The Northeast reported a higher number of fire ground injuries per 100 fires than other regions of the country.

• The major types of injuries received during fire ground operations were: strain, sprain, muscular pain (55.2%); wound, cut, bleeding, bruise (12.2%); thermal stress (5.8%)burns (5.7%). Strains, sprains, and muscular pain accounted for 58.5% of all non fire ground injuries.

• The leading causes of fire ground injuries were overexertion, strain (27.5%) and fall, slip, jump (23.2%).