Brothers and Sisters,


I'm writing a paper on firefighter LODD in the U.S. and as a part of my research, I'd like to perform an informal survey on what I believe are the two leading causes of LODD, and are the most preventable.  The survey is located here


The attachment is the same survey in MS word format.  Please be brutally honest when answering the survey . . . and as always comments from the group are welcome. 


Chiefs, if you feel it's appropriate for your department, please ask members of your department to participate, the more responses I can get, the better. 


NO departments or personnel will be identified unless I get written permission from the member or the Dept Chief to identify them in the paper.  All results will remain private.


Hopefully, if I get enough data it will offer some real solutions, I we will be able to continue the downward trend in firefighter deaths.


One last thing, even though I will only be looking at U.S. Fire Deaths, if anyone outside the U.S has insight to what is working for you. . . please respond to the word document and indicate in the remarks that you are not a U.S. firefighter.


Thanks in advance for your help and participation.


As always, TCSS





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True if your genetically predisposed to heart attack, it may still get you. But are we doing enough of the stuff to prevent No. 4 in your post? I would say we aren't. And granted, I haven't combed through the all NIOSH reports to find out exactly what type of heart attack occured, but couple I did look at were not heat stress related, chemical or cardiac electrical and both had significant arterial blockage. I would argue that doing all of those things that minimize the risk for heart disease is no different than performing preventative maintenance on the engine, hoses or ladders. Everything has to work when you need it, including the firefighter.

No one else has anything to add?
not saying that we don't need to be proactive in health and equipment managment but lets go back to the first gas crunch and see the man that seen all the gas saving gizmos 10 % here and 5% there and put them all on his car. he started his trip with a half tank of gas and drove forty miles and siphoned 5 gal of gas out of the tank. asked why he did this and his reply was that all the gizmos saved him 150% in savings and there fore he would fill up his tank and overflow. stupid right? well who thinks that you can become so fit that you will not die by sitting down or by going to work. scripture says that you don't work you don't eat and that you were born you will die. so take care of yourself and work till you die and those of us still around need to see the good they did while they were here.

I understand the nature of the beast of VFD's but if they were more responsible in vetting their candidates and establishing and maintaining higher physical standards and age limits there could be at least a 30% decrease in LODD's related to heart attack/stroke.

Secondly, by enforcing strict response levels in POV's, mandatory and annual EVOC with stringent oversight with regard to apparatus (speed, seat belts, driver qualifications and possible minimum age limit to drive), LODD's could be further reduced by another possible 15-20%.

In (a short) time, LODD's could be reduced overall by nearly 50% by implementing such standards. And that's just on the volunteer side. Understandably it may not be totally practical but effort has to be made to lower the numbers. Are at-risk firefighters really worth the risk?
at risk ff worth the risk. possible in a paid service but in the vol side you take the men and look at the risks and place them to the risk vs gain positions or you may not have any to respond and there also goes the experince that needs to be passed on.

That I think is the problem. None of the VFDs in my neck of the woods require an entry physical let alone an annual lookie loo. Without any stats at my fingertips or the time at the moment to sift through NIOSH reports I’d be cautious to say that volunteers suffer more sudden cardiac death than do career FFs. That is what my gut tells me. Of the volunteers I’ve seen at schools, mutual aid meetings or what have you, close to half could stand to loose some weight and many would be on the verge of obesity, if not already there. Smokers, and here in TX, smokeless tobacco use, make up at least forty percent of the FF at my dept. Just looking around the fire hall in my Dept I see many risk factors. For us [volunteers] it’s a matter of education first, than the money to get physicals, lab work and all of the other things the NFPA recommends. I’m in 100% agreement with your other points as well. Administrative controls will work for some, but you still have the FF who thinks it’s cool to run 90 mph in his POV to get to the scene. How do we change the mindset of the folks who are the most at risk for dangerous behavior. Keeping in mind that retention on the volunteer side is difficult and that the age of our members averages somewhere in the 40s?

I've heard the statement made by other departments over and over, If we make physicals mandatory I'll lose a lot of members, we don't have the money for that ,we cant afford it either way. That's a bunch of crap folks!! A department will bust their ass to hold a car wash, chicken dinner etc.. etc.. to raise money to buy their favorite toys, but when you mention the word physicals, watch them run the other way!

Jack/dt, Your statement is exactly what needs to take place!!

I'm not saying there are any quick fixes. It starts with the education of the department and the community. People can readily understand the need for apparatus, training or facilities but it's education that is needed for them to understand the need for physicals. Like Rusty pointed out, departments will have a variety of fund raisers but how much of that goes towards physicals?

For the individual that wants to drive at 90 mph, as Chief you need to make it clear that anyone caught doing so is terminated. The risk that individual presents to the department far outweighs any possible benefit they might have to offer.

Eliminating the "social club" mentality that still permeates many VFD's and replacing it with the attitude that it is a fire department (volunteer simply being the manner in which it is staffed) tells people that they will be required to meet certain (increasing) standards. Failing that they are little more than an organized mob with access to water. Telling them that will be a bit of a blow to some egos.

You are the Chief and it is your department to run as you see fit. Regardless of how many toes are stepped on and how easily you may be replaced, that you are concerned with LODD's and the related issues shows that you have the best interest of your department at heart. It shouldn't be about funding, or egos, or numbers. It is about what is in the best interest of the community and the members. Which would be worse when standing graveside at a LODD funeral, the sadness at the loss, or the guilt knowing that it was entirely avoidable?
Actually, the LODD statistics show that all firefighters have cardiac-related deaths at a much lower rate than does the general population.

That doesn't make any of them good - but it does (fortunately) make them less frequent.
Ben, My point was since the data had been compiled by them, the doctor performing the autopsy noted 30% had PREVIOUS background knowledge of heart attacks, the other 70% did not have enough background information (doctor records, history) to determine if the victim had a pre-disposed condition. But 30% of all cardiac related deaths in the fire service had underlying knowledge of pre-existing heart disease, had previous MI's, and/or stents placed but were still allowed to be a firefighter.

So out of these 30% who were clearly AT RISK for such a stressful line of work, regardless of heat induced stress or not, they could have been prevented in the doctor's office.

But I would speculate, never had a FD mandated physical, or told the FD they had such a condition(s).
I sent a friend request please accept it so I can talk to you in some what privet...I lost my best friend in 2008 to LODD.I would feel more at ease telling his story but not in public I dont want him to be scrutinized.

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