Christopher J. Naum, SFPE
While the number of structural fires in the United States continues to decline, firefighter line of duty deaths (LODD) do not exhibit the same rate of proportion decline. A review of both NFPA and USFA Firefighter LODD annual reports, statistics and retrospective studies and analysis suggest a noted change in the adverse trends noted for a number of previous years, but we are lagging in achieving the goals established by the NFFF’s Everyone Goes Home Program and initiatives.
A recently published study and research conducted at the University of Georgia may provide insights and help 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, “according to study co-author David DeJoy, of the Workplace Health Group in the College of Public Health.
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.
For an Abstract from the Line of duty deaths among U.S. Firefighters: An analysis of fatality investigations, published by Kumar Kunadharaju, Todd D. Smith and David M. Dejoy and additional study insights, go to CommandSafety.com HERE
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