Sure way to reduce LODDs each year.........but what is the give and take?

I've been away from this site for a bit, so thought I'd come back with what potentially could be an interesting discussion. While on Firehouse, at the NFA, and even a recent "safety stand down" day at the dept, there is talk about the number of LODDs a year and they unfortunately tend to hold steady.

It is no doubt that this job is inherently dangerous, despite what safety measures, precautions and training we take. However, we hear the preaching from many about the number of LODDs each year and we keep losing about the same amount despite our "best" efforts. Not only fireground, but seatbelts, to heart attacks are contributors to many LODD. Thing of it is, there is an easy way to reduce the number of LODDs each year just by changing the definition and timeline of what constitutes a LODD.
The kicker is what is the give and take of changing such definitions, and even me personally am at odds with maybe this will spark a discussion.

Here is the issue, today a LODD is pretty much a firefighter dying within 24 hours of a shift or a call. While the call or shift may have contributed to the death, is it really fair to call the death a LODD just because it falls in a time frame? Recently a FF became a LODD after working a shift and was busy in their second job when they died. Was it because of the shift? Moreso we hear about LODD from the volly world where a FF died 24 hours after responding to a call or something. Point is, the person could be at a pump panel for a false alarm, goes home and chops firewood and dies from an MI, but because it falls within the definition of a LODD it is one. A paper mill worker may have worked a double shift, may have been busy, leaves work and dies from an MI. No denying the job could definately play a factor in the death, but it isn't considered a "loss time" accident.

Now the flip side here is that changing the definition can reduce the number of LODDs each year, but that would mean a reduction in benefits for the member's family. Is this something we would want to give up to lower the number of LODDs a year?

I'm really not trying to be callous here, but we know that lowering your B/P, cholesterol and so forth will help us live healthier and longer, but is a cardiac related event 24 hours after a shift or call really the result of the job, or are there other factors involved? I too would love to get our LODDs to ZERO, yet it makes me wonder how we can call some deaths LODD when most other occupations wouldn't.

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Our concern should be the issue of the money running out and nobody getting any $ for a true LODD.

When they changed the PSOB definitions to add a certain time frame post emergency response, then of course the numbers are going to increase from before. How can it not??? Considering if you work a 2/2/4 and run every shift then there is about only one or two days a week that the brother is not considered a LODD?
Keep in mind that the PSOB rules also call for nonroutine strenuous activity to rule it a LODD. Being the operator at an activated alarm system call that turns out to be nothing may not meet the definition. Working interior at a large fire certainly would. The stress level on the heart after such activity could lead to problems that show up within 24 hours that claim a life.
I think the PSOB should require that the fire chief of the lost brother provide proof of "fit for duty" prior to the firefighter who died in the line of duty. Proof within a certain time frame like within 1 or 2 years not 20 years ago and the requirement should be NFPA 1582 physical and not the average personal MD providing a note saying the firefighter should be fit for duty, otherwise no proof - deny the family death benefits all together.

That would reduce the numbers, because I would bet more than half of the cardiac and stroke related deaths today were undiagnoised or the fire department (Paid or VFD) have absolutely NO annual medical screening program. Defintion wise, years ago these were not considered LODD's.

Two fold, it would cap the working age and we would see less 80 year old LODD's, when the brother would have been forced to retire years ago. Airline pilots, truck drivers, all have medical standards that eventually they are told time to hang up the uniform due to the physical condition or age of the employee...

Nobody would feel comfortable with an airline pilot being rolled via wheel chair into the cockpit because he is so old, but currently if the fire chief says he still comes down and is an active member, then he is considered an LODD is the pager goes beep-beep-beep
Medical screenings were not done years ago. Heart attacks and strokes were not considered LODD a few years ago. Health and driving programs were unheard of years ago.

However, the numbers of deaths haven't really changed that much. Just placed in different categories and defined differently from years ago, but the total stays stagnant.

The ONLY sure thing in life, IS death.
Boy, I'll tell ya what I'm on the fence about this.

In the one instance, was it the busy day on "the job" that killed him or the second job? Could it have been health? Who really knows? But again, if you remove these types of deaths from the definition of LODD, then families miss out on possibly much needed money.

And to argue the point a bit further, let's say you have someone working a 24-hour shift and the entire day did not respond to a single call. He lays down that night to sleep and never wakes up. Is that an LODD? Yes, he was at the fire station, I'm just saying it's not like the LODD's that make headline news stories.

Sounds like if the definition is changed, it's going to involve politics and who has the strongest voice in lobbying the issue. It will be interesting to watch I think.

F.D. Web Design
Two fold, it would cap the working age and we would see less 80 year old LODD's, when the brother would have been forced to retire years ago.

There in leads to another quandry what point is too old to be a firefighter or even on the fireground?

As it is, you see many people of retirement age who are capable of contributing to a dept in some way, albeit usually not as a line FF, but still can contribute, so at what point do you tell someone they can't be on a dept? Is there really a magic age? No, there isn't. Thing is that 70 or so Chief or what have you could be on the fireground either assisting a command role, doing rehab, accountability, or any other non-strenuous job and can still die from a cardiac event hours later and still be considered an LODD.
Keep in mind that the PSOB rules also call for nonroutine strenuous activity to rule it a LODD

Is it? Because if looking back there have been LODD where a person was found deceased at a station and the report usually goes after running some alarms. Well on the career side of things, that is your job, respond to calls and most are quite routine. Thing is the person could have responded to a few EMS calls where they physically never got out of the rig, but responded to a few and later died, it is still classified as a LODD regardless if there was strenuous activity or not.
but the total stays stagnant.

Absolutely, and also part of the issue at hand. In years past we didn't have the PPE we have today, apparatus was not to the standards of today, training was not where you see it as today, but yes the numbers stay stagnant. The issue is because the LODD definitions are they way they are, lets say you make it that the person has to die as a direct result of injuries or event suffered on the scene, going to or back from the call to be considered a LODD and the numbers would drop dramatically. Make the defitions to be within 12 hours after a confirmed busy shift and the numbers would drop and so forth. Problem is you sacrifice benefits to family. Problem is the person may have been fine at the scene of the incident, but died because of a cardiac event induced from cleanup of the scene 12 plus hours later, so again where does it get classed... see the issue?
Sounds like if the definition is changed, it's going to involve politics and who has the strongest voice in lobbying the issue. It will be interesting to watch I think.

You have the same train of thought as me, it really is difficult to make the call one way or the other, really what do we give up? Thing is, we really don't need politics involved here, but in a way we do too. In fact is was because of the number of LODDs from the past that we could push for requirements and financing to be budgeted to protect FF's with new gear, apparatus, standards and so forth, otherwise we know how the shady politicians would deem priority.

On the flip, the problem is some of the same people telling us in the fire service we need to reduce the number of LODDs are the same ones going to the elected officials saying we lose over 100 guys a year in this field. You don't see the cops playing the same game to get funding, but we see it in our ranks. Then again do police have the same definitions for a LODD, not really, but there is the issue and the biggest issue I have here. The same fire service leaders telling us we need to reduce LODD are the same ones willing to change and tweak the definitions and then go before elected leaders and say we are still losing over 100 FFs a year.

Tough to say where to stand, if it was me, I want to know my family is taken care of, was it the call or was it the other job or underlying issue? Is this what we need to do to get the politicians to actually listen?
I understand what you are talking about, however this is one of those "issues" which I don't like talking about much. The reason why....

A Firefighter died after a shift in Anywhere U.S.A. He died at his house of a heart attack just hours after fighting a house fire. It was obvious that his work at the house fire is what caused the heart attack. However, because he was not on the job or at the fire he was not covered by PSOB.

Along came a very active firefighter who really wants to make change in the system. He felt that the system had failed this Brother who had died and felt it should be considered LODD. He hit the streets talking to anyone and everyone who would listen. Finally, the people who are the decision makers agree with him that this was an LODD and will be considered such in the future so that no other Family of a Fallen Firefighter (Public Safety) has to go through this again. Hence the rules as they are written now.

OK, I admit that probably isn't the exact way it went but you get my drift. Organizations fought hard for the PSOB changes and really we should not complain at all.

We should be grateful for what we have and fight hard for what we deserve. Other guys/gals have fought hard for what we take for granted every day.

It may not be perfect, but I will take the benefit of the doubt. My family will appreciate it!

Don't take that the wrong way though. I am not trying to come down on your opinion, I understand but disagree with it. I just feel as though it is better off left alone!
In all honesty, I agree with you and I also agree with how things are defined today, which is why I opened this as a discussion and also bring in considerations and counterpoint. The reasoning for this is the same fire service leaders telling us we need to reduce these numbers are the same ones saying we have consistent numbers of LODDs a year. Thing is how many other occupations have such a thing as a 24 hour window to define a LODD? Thing is their job stressors can be a direct result of a death hours later also.

Problem is in this job, it is difficult to deny the job of a FF could have contributed to the death, yet it is quite possible it didn't. Yes, we are erring on the side of the job contributed to a death for the sake of benefits, but in all honesty, there could be countless contributing factors which could occur after a shift, training, or call.

I am satisfied with how things are defined today and am in no way proposing a change to the definitions, just the fact that the fire service leaders keep stating we need to lower the numbers and this would be a sure fire way to do so....but at what cost?

Another reason for this discussion is that it may spark some conversation of not only a LODD, but even things like a mandatory cutoff age and so one poster already mentioned. In reality a 66y/o could be in better health and better shape than a 25y/o...just stuff to consider.
I was responding to firecritic, not you.

I do agree with you however, that just changing what defines a LODD would not change the facts about the job, but it would reduce the number of annual LODDs a year.

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