CFREHR seeks data on female firefighter health

The survey will collect data to shape policy and practice decisions for women in the fire service

By FireResuce1 Staff

NEW YORK — The Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research is requesting participation in a survey on the health of female firefighters. While there have been considerable advances in the literature related to firefighter health, most publications have been focused exclusively on males. The purpose of this study is to collect data specific to the health, perceptions and experiences of females in the career fire service.
The past decade has produced a significant amount of firefighter health research. A keyword search of “firefighter” on PubMed, the website database of medical literature, indicates that nearly 69 percent of hits occurred within the past 10 years, according to Sara A, Jahnke, Ph.D., director, Center for Fire Rescue, & EMS Health Research, and the project lead. 

Several scientific teams have focused their line of research on understanding the occupational health risks of firefighters. Understandably, most of the health research to date has focused on men given they make up the majority of the fire service, Dr. Jahnke noted. “It also is a challenge to find and recruit women in the fire service as they make up such a small percentage of the population. Soliciting participation from a department typically results in very few women.” 

To know what impact the job has on women's health, it is necessary to study them specifically. (Photo/Bob Perier, Portland Fire & Rescue)
To know what impact the job has on women's health, it is necessary to study them specifically. (Photo/Bob Perier, Portland Fire & Rescue)

To know what impact the job has on women, it is necessary to study them specifically, Dr. Jahnke stressed. The survey covers a broad range of health topics from general health impact, behavioral health, reproductive health and cancer. “Data resulting from this work will be able to shape policy and practice decisions for women, their departments, and their providers related to maternal and child health. It also will provide a valid snapshot of the population of women firefighters, the health risks they face, and the relationships between the risk factors and occupational risks,” Dr. Jahnke said. 

“To be able to draw any conclusions about the health impact of being on the job, it is necessary to collect data from a large and diverse sample of women,” Dr. Jahnke said. If you are a woman in the fire service and/or know women who currently serve as firefighters, you can participate in the study here.

The project is funded by the Assistance to Firefighters Grants. Participation is completely voluntary. Study findings will be used to increase understanding of the health of female firefighters and identify areas for future research. Results will be explored in a white paper in the third year of the project, as well as a future FireRescue1 column. 

Any questions can be directed to the Dr. Jahnke at or 913-681-0300.

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