Being a firefighter is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. Many of those who serve as firefighters are volunteers, risking their lives every day to make sure we stay safe.
In a study of statistics for 2011, the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services broke down the activities firefighters were participating in when they sustained an injury. About a quarter of injuries were sustained while extinguishing or neutralizing a fire. About another quarter of injuries were sustained while providing support to suppression efforts. Other activities include EMS and rescue duties, incident scene activity, station activity, driving or riding in a vehicle, and using fire department apparatus.
What are the causes of firefighter injuries in New York State? Here’s what DHSES found were the main causes:
- Exposure to hazard — 31 percent
- Overexertion and strain — 23 percent
- Fall, jump, slip or trip — 16 percent
- Other undetermined causes or no response — 13 percent
- Contact with an object — 12 percent
- Struck or assaulted — 5 percent
The DHSES also looked at the symptoms that firefighters reported. The largest percentage was dislocations, sprains and fractures. That was followed by smoke inhalation. Other symptoms reported include:
- A cut or puncture wound
- Shortness of breath
- Cardiac or respiratory arrest
A majority of the injuries occurred at the scene, outside the structure. About a third occurred at the scene, inside the structure. The remaining small percentage occurred in other locations, including returning from the incident or en route to the incident or a medical facility.