As if fighting infernos and reacting to terrorist attacks is not
enough, firefighters are dying from avoidable health and safety
problems, federal officials said.
The National Fire Protection Association cites more than 78,000
firefighter injuries annually. In a given year, about half the line-of-duty
deaths are from heart-related illnesses.
“Firefighters are being killed at an alarming rate. The fire
service simply cannot continue to do business as usual when so many
of its own are dying,” said International Association of Fire
Chiefs President Chief Bob DiPoli.
Firefighter injury and death rates have remained relatively constant
during the past several years, despite monumental improvements in
technology and equipment. Another 25 percent are from mishaps including
motor-vehicle accidents, according to the association’s statistics.
In response, the federal government, as well as 20 other organizations,
is waging a health education effort to drive these numbers down.
“So many of these deaths could have been prevented by firefighters
learning … and applying healthy and safe practices whether
on the fireground, at the fire station or when they go home,”
said Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
which includes the U.S. Fire Administration.