Intro and Purpose

With the accumulation of 58,835 documented fire fighter injuries within the nation for the year of 2017, departments should start (or continue) to analyze how the injuries arise and what methods of preventative measures might decrease the injury count for future years. This article will explore some injury and fatality statistics for fire fighters within the US, along with possible poreventative measures to aid the departments.

Statistics

US Fire Fighter Injury Statistics in 2017

  • 58,835 injuries reported in 2017
  • 24,495 fireground injuries reported in 2017
  • 1/3 of Injuries result from Overexertion
  • per‐claim average worker’s compensation cost: $5,168
  • per-claim average worker’s compensation cost for overexertion injuries: $9,715

With overexertion being the leading cause of fireground injuries, how can we prevent such a common and costly injury? Overexertion is the lack of ability for the body to withstand an external or internal force, tension, or stress. How can departments construct or impliment programs that better prepare or screen personnel to overcome overexertion and observe potential risk factors prior to an injury occurance?

US Fire Fighter Fatality Statistics in 2017

  • 60 on-duty deaths (29 were cardiac)
  • 32 volunteer firefighters, 21 career firefighters, 3 employees of federal land management agencies, 2 contractors with state and federal land management agencies, and 2 prison inmates

With 29 out of 60 on-duty deaths being a result of cardiac fatality, how can fire departments impliment medical screening to filter those with potential risk factors and develop a fitness program to improve the health of their personnel?

Research

Evaluating areas to monitor within the profession of fire fighting, Kuehl et al. (2012) concluded that the BMI of fire fighters is worth analyzing. They researchers’ presented study of 2012 displayed that “The odds of filing a compensation claim were almost three times higher for firefighters with a BMI >30 compared to firefighters with normal BMI (Kuehl, et al. 2012).” The study suggests that BMI might be a risk factor for potential injuries, and department staff need to closely monitor the BMI of their personnel. Although BMI might not directly mean someone is obese (since someone can have a high BMI due to a large amount of lean muscle for their height), it could be a potential risk factor since more mass on someone’s frame is a potential for limitation of ROM (range of motion).

A research study by Bates, G. et al. (2007) utilized FMS tests to analyze core strength of fire fighter subjects. The intent of the study was to “improve flexibility and strength in trunk stabilizer or core muscle groups through a training program was evaluated (Bates, et al., 2007).” The results of the study displayed that the twelve month program “reduced lost time due to injuries by 62%” and the injury count by 42% as compared to a historical control group (Bates, et al., 2007). The study suggests that a focus on core strength could decrease the amount of injuries among fire fighters in the field, as well as decrease the amount of time that fire fighters can’t work due to injury.

Become The Solution

Jabai Performance’s Fire Fighter Training Systems Program is devoted toward the prevention and management of injuries that fire fighters might become at risk of or exposed to during their career. The program’s mission is to establish proper assessments to analyze and improve all aspects of health & wellness. Jabai Performance focuses on utilizing movement screening, exercise testing, and job task analysis protocols in efforts to prevent overexertion and strains, the leading cause of injury among fire fighters. The company devotes time and effort into building essential resources, such as partnering with medical companies, seeking guidance in the realm of mental wellness, and collaborating with departments to understand the needs for other resources that can improve the quality of life of fire fighters. A single injury, such as those caused by overexertion, can result in costing the department nearly $10,000 per claim filed. This does not even take into account the cost, time, and efforts of hiring and training new personnel to fill the role of the injured fire fighter during the recovery process. Jabai Performance’s goal is to be able to assess and evaluate department personnel, develop strength & conditioning programs, and build a strong network of resources in which fuel the increase in performance output, injury prevention, and overall wellness of our fire fighters.

Resources

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajim.10200

https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/

https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-Media/NFPA-Journal/2018/July-August-2018/Features/Firefighter-Fatalities

https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-Media/NFPA-Journal/2018/November-December-2018/Features/US-Firefighter-Injuries-2017

Citations

Kuehl, K. S., Kisbu-Sakarya, Y., Elliot, D. L., Moe, E. L., Defrancesco, C. A., Mackinnon, D. P., … Kuehl, H. E. (2012). Body mass index as a predictor of firefighter injury and workers’ compensation claims. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine, Retieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3349447/

Bates, G., Lunda, K., Francis, S., Bellamy, K., & Peate, W. (2007, April 11). Core strength: A new model for injury prediction and prevention. Retrieved from https://occup-med.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1745-6673-2-3

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