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Protecting Firefighters Lives And Safety Essay

2514 words - 10 pages

Every year communities struggle each year around the nation with issues of life safety. In 2012, the nation’s fire departments responded to 31,854,000 responses that resulted in the deaths 0f 2,855 civilians and injuring 16,500 causing an estimated $12,427 million dollars in damage. (United States Fire Administration, 2014) These incidents put at risk 345,950 career and 783,300 volunteer firefighters that resulted in the deaths of 81 individuals (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2013) and nearly 70,000 reported injuries. ( Karter & Molis, 2013) These numbers represent incidents that are determined to be in the line of duty but do not take into consideration the long-term health risk issues that may develop. Evidence shows that he hazards associated with Fire and Emergency Services are consistent across the board whether paid or volunteer and jeopardize the lives and health of each individual, placing administrative and physical control measures reduces this risk to firefighter within an organization. While it is impossible to eliminate the hazards firefighters face, it is important to identify these hazards as the first step in reducing the potential for loss of life and wellbeing both physically and mentally.
The United States Fire Administration is responsible for the establishment criteria for a Line of Duty Death determination (LODD). The criteria include a fatality or fatal injury or illness that may occur while on duty. For the purpose of LODD “On Duty” encompasses any incident that occurs at the scene of an emergency, responding to and from an incident or any other activity that would be considered officially assigned duties such as training. Fatalities that are associated with a documented exposure to a communicable disease would also be considered as an occupational illness and qualify as an LODD. Additionally with the passing of the Hometown Heroes Survivor Act fatal illness such as heart attack or stroke that occur within 24hrs of an incident are now considered to also be LODD. (U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), 2012) Out of the 81 LODD during 2012, 45 were attributed to stress/overexertion, 18 to vehicle collisions, 7 to being struck by an object, 4 to collapse, 4 collapses and 1 each for falls, trapped and contact. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2013) While many of these factors may have been unpreventable 45% of these incidents were associated with stress/overexertion which could have unlike the 16 direct fire related incidents.
Firefighting is a mentally and physically demanding profession that places employees in stressful situations. This type of physical stress can compromise the health/fitness/wellness of an individual, so personnel need to be properly prepared for duty. A 14-year study in California of 4,300 firefighters found that more than 50% of firefighters over the age of 35 did not meet fitness requirements to perform the job effectively. (Roberts, 2013) Extensive research into the fitness levels required...

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