You Probably Won't Die, No Matter What You Do


Does it sound crazy for a firefighter to say that?  Maybe it does, but at All Hazards Contemplations, I've pointed out that statistics show that approximately 100 U.S. firefighters die in the line of duty each year, with a smaller number of annual non-firefighter EMS LODDs.


There are approximately 1.15 millon firefighters in the USA.  That results in a LODD rate of 8.69 to the power of -5...a fraction so tiny that I don't think I can count that far without help from a math professor, a computer, and a calculator with advanced math functions.  Or, to put it the same way my basic calculator put it, that number is <strong>8.6956521739130434782608695652174e-5</strong>


Adding the 20 or 30 annual non-fire EMS provider LODDs to that number doesn't change the fraction in any way that is meanigful either mathematically or statistically.


So, eat at McDonald's all you wish, smoke and dip tobacco, don't work out or do any cardio, pack in the sugar and the caffiene, drive way faster than the speed limit, don't stop at controlled intersections, don't wear your seat belt or SCBA, don't perform size-ups, run blindly into every building no matter how little - or how much fire or smoke issue from it, freelance, ignore orders, and you'll probably live to tell the rest of us how tough and cool you are...


...this year.

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Comment by Ben Waller on March 20, 2011 at 8:25pm

My point is that there are things we can do to improve firefighter safety while recognizing the facts. The facts tell us that there really are not all that many of us who die in the line of duty over a given year.

Over a career - different story.

There are a lot of good reasons to engage in a culture of safety and to avoid all of the dangerous and unhealthy behaviors I discussed. I'm just pointing out that using LODD scare tactics might not be the best reason to be smart, healthy and safe, particularly over a career, rather than just singling out one year's LODD stats.
Comment by Ben Waller on March 20, 2011 at 8:22pm
Jack, the BoL statistics are for the entire population of firefighters, but they do not apply prospectively to a single firefighter.

It is impossible for a single firefighter to die 8.9 times, let alone in a single year. That's why I used the numbers I did.

Re-read my last paragraph...and the trailing comment for context. I'm not encouraging anything I discussed - I'm just discussing the odds.
Comment by Jack/dt on March 20, 2011 at 3:22pm
I've never seen this statistic presented in this way (and to be honest, I'm not really sure what you're saying with it; is it the percentage of risk?)

The figure 8.9 is equals the number of LODD per 100,000 firefighters. It is this form that is consistently used by the Bureau of Labor.

Interestingly, the BL does NOT include volunteer LODD when calculating deaths/100,000. By counting ONLY those LODD of career FF's it then brings firefighting up to around the 5th or 6th (I belive) most dangerous profession.

In your last paragraph, you encouraging readers to go and enjoy bad foods, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle and reckless fireground behavior because the odds are so LOW that most likely they will never be a LODD. This is exactly the opposite of how state lotteries encourage people to play; the odds are something like 1:7,000,000 (CT lottery) of hitting the big jackpot. The odds of having a LODD is around 1:10,000. So which jackpot do have the better chance of hitting?
Comment by FETC on March 17, 2011 at 3:59pm
Wow Ben.... I see the numbers don't lie.

I just have to wonder how you get anyone to follow any safety rules, with a public display like this?

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