Firefighter injuries drop nationwide to lowest level since 1981

QUINCY – The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) this week released the latest edition of its “U.S. Firefighter Injuries” report, which highlights data on injuries sustained by firefighters on duty in 2016.

The statistics were collected from fire departments responding to NFPA’s annual U.S. Fire Experience survey.

There were 62,085 U.S. firefighter injuries in 2016, reflecting an 8.8 percent decrease from 2015, making this the lowest rate of injury since 1981, when NFPA began analyzing firefighter injury data. Of those injuries, 19,050 (30.6percent) resulted in lost time.

The leading injury types in 2016 were: Strains, sprains and/or muscular pains (52.6 percent), and wounds, cuts, bleeding, and bruising (15.2 percent)

Firefighters were more likely to be injured on the fireground resulting in 24,325 (39.2 percent) of the firefighter injuries.

The leading cause of injury during fireground operations was overexertion and strain (27.1percent). Injuries also occurred off the fireground. Other types of duty that resulted in firefighter injury were:

  • Non-fire emergency incidents (20.6 percent)
  • Other on-duty activities (18.2 percent)
  • Training activities (13.7 percent)

While responding to or returning from an incident an estimated 15,425 collisions occurred involving fire department emergency vehicles resulting in 700 firefighter injuries (8.4 percent).

There were also 9,275 documented exposures to infectious diseases (e.g., hepatitis, meningitis, and HIV) in 2016, along with an estimated 36,475 documented exposures to hazardous conditions (e.g., asbestos, chemicals, fumes, and radioactive materials).

The documented exposures to hazardous conditions represents a 34 percent increase as compared to 2015.


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