Navigation Links
Comprehensive UGA study reveals patterns in firefighter fatalities

While the number of fires is on the decline, firefighter deaths are not and a new University of Georgia study helps explain why.

Researchers in the UGA College of Public Health found that cultural factors in the work environment that promote getting the job done as quickly as possible with whatever resources available lead to an increase in line-of-duty firefighter fatalities.

"Firefighting is always going to be a hazardous activity, but there's a general consensus among firefighting organizations and among scientific organizations that it can be safer than it is," said study co-author David DeJoy, of the Workplace Health Group in the College of Public Health. "As a society, we ought to make the effort to make it safer."

The research, published in the May edition of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, examined data gathered from 189 firefighter fatality investigations conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health between 2004 and 2009. Each NIOSH investigation gives recommendations directed at preventing future firefighter injuries and deaths. The researchers looked at the high-frequency recommendations and linked them to important causal and contributing factors of the fatalities.

The four major causes they identified were under-resourcing, inadequate preparation for adverse events during operations, incomplete adoption of incident command procedures and sub-optimal personnel readiness.

DeJoy and his colleagues analyzed the investigations in terms of the core culture of the firefighting profession. Firefighting culture should not be construed as one of negligence, said DeJoy, but one based on a long-standing tradition of acceptance of risk. A job that relies on extreme individual efforts and has too few resources leads to the chronic condition of doing too much with too little, he said.

"If you get used to taking risks, it's easy to take a little more risk," DeJoy said. "Most of the time when we take risks, like walking across the street or driving a car, nothing bad happens. This level of risk gets ratcheted up and becomes part of normal activity." Acceptance of risk becomes extremely perilous in a situation in which adverse events can happen at any time and margins of safety are very thin, he added.

Firefighter deaths dropped in the 1970s and 1980s, largely due to improvements in protective clothing, breathing equipment and radio communication, explained DeJoy. In the last decades, fatality numbers actually edged upward while the number of fires has gone down, he said. On average, more than 100 firefighters die on the job in the U.S. each year, which is three times higher than the fatality rate for the general working population. "There's a lot of interest to see what is going on," DeJoy said.

The number one cause of death identified in the study was not smoke inhalation or traumatic injury, but cardiovascular events. Eighty-seven of the 213 deaths examined in the study were cardiac-related. Deaths from cardiovascular events resulted in two predominant recommendations from the researchers: the need for improvements in medical screening and the need for wider adoption of mandatory fitness/wellness programming.

Many of the recommendations can be traced to a lack of finances, said DeJoy. Not only does under-resourcing affect the ability of a fire department to acquire innovative technology, it can lead to a shortage of personnel at a fire, compromising rapid intervention and the ability to maintain command and control functions during operations, he said.

DeJoy acknowledged that there is a certain amount of subjective interpretation that goes into analyzing incident investigations. In addition, NIOSH investigations are not mandatory and can be refused by a fire department. NIOSH also mostly investigates deaths involving career, or paid, firefighters, although a majority of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers and a majority of line-of-duty deaths involve volunteers. DeJoy said he hopes NIOSH will do more investigations of volunteer firefighter fatalities, as those organizations may have the greatest need for evaluation and technical assistance.


Contact: David DeJoy
University of Georgia

Related medicine news :

1. Medical Homes Help Kids Get Comprehensive Care
2. National Comprehensive Cancer Network and SNM join to advance oncology imaging research
3. NIH-sponsored panel issues comprehensive US food allergy guidelines
4. Internists outline comprehensive federal strategy to control tobacco use
5. Better Hearing Institute Publishes Comprehensive Consumer Guide to Buying Hearing Aids
6. Premier Literacy Releases Version 12 of the Most Comprehensive Offering of Literacy Tools Available Today
7. 3M and Maryland Hospital Association's Quality Indicator Project Partner to Deliver Comprehensive Quality Solution
8. Comprehensive Plan May Help Control Childrens Asthma
9. Microscan Upgrades Visionscape, the Most Comprehensive Machine Vision Software for Multi-platform Use
10. Savi and ODIN to Deliver Industry's Most Comprehensive RFID Software Platform
11. Dr. Appz Launches Comprehensive Productivity App for iPhone
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Comprehensive UGA study reveals patterns in firefighter fatalities
(Date:11/25/2015)... San Mateo, CA (PRWEB) , ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... $15,000 in prizes were awarded to winners of the Create Real Impact awards. ... and creative expression to help stem the tide of distracted and reckless driving, the ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Dr. Todd S. Afferica, a ... services to many of his patients. Dr. Afferica now uses the BIOLASE WaterLase iPlus ... amount of time the doctor uses other traditional cutting tools, such as the scalpel ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... launched their Black Friday sale a week early, offering 40% off select bras ... the intimate apparel industry through both mobile fit technology and the latest fashion, ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... IL (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... are national leaders when it comes to several aspects of orthopedic care. They ... joint replacements, orthopedic surgeries and general orthopedic care. , Becker's Hospital Review ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... Brillouin Energy Corp. Congress ... the developer of renewable energy technologies capable of producing commercially useful amounts of ... that its WET™ and HHT™ Boiler System reactor core modules were presented to ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... "Company") (NYSE: MR ), a ... medical devices worldwide, today announced that ... general meeting of shareholders at the ... Grand Century, 193 Prince Edward West Road, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... Pennsylvania , November 25, 2015 - ... Continuing Medical Education (CME) --> ... Continuing Medical Education (CME) --> ... Care Continuing Medical Education (CME) ... medical information products and services, will feature latest diagnostic imaging textbooks ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Frankreich, November 25, 2015 ... heute bekanntgegeben, dass sie eine Lizenz für das Patent ... Poxel, CNRS, UCBL und ENS-Lyon innehaben, an Enyo Pharma ... von FUI AAP8 ins Leben gerufenen und von Edelris ... wurde FXR als ein Behandlungsziel für HBV identifiziert, und ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: