IAFF study pinpoints reasons behind firefighter injuries
By FireRescue1 Staff
A lack of situational awareness is the major cause of firefighter line-of-duty injuries in metropolitan departments, according to a new study.
The IAFF also found in the study one-third of injuries were attributable to a cluster of factors that are under the direct control of the individual firefighter and chief officers.
It carried out the review over a two-year period from 2005 into a group of
of geographically diverse metropolitan departments to identify and quantify the major factors that contribute to line-of-duty injuries.
The IAFF's analysis suggests that the most prominent contributing factors to firefighter line-of-duty injury in metropolitan fire departments in the United States are:
• Lack of situational awareness (37.3%)
• Lack of wellness/fitness (28.5%)
• Human error (10.6%)
When clustered according to contributing factors most often occurring together, the study found lack of communication, standard operating guidelines/procedure breaches, protocol breaches, human error and lack of situational awareness were the most common reasons for injuries.
For each line-of duty injury, factors contributing to the injury were recorded from internal departmental reports including official injury reports, victim statements, officer and eyewitness reports.
The IAFF hopes the study will provide greater insight into the common causes of injuries and provide fresh impetus into reducing them
"If a significant reduction in firefighter injuries is to be realized, fire service leaders must focus directly on the contributing factors as identified," the report said.
In the first year of the study, the NFPA estimated there were 80,100 firefighter injuries that occurred in the line of duty in 2005 across the country, an increase of 5.6 percent from 2004. Almost half occurred during fireground operations.
Among the departments studied by the IAFF were Richmond, Va., Worcester, Mass., Charlotte, NC, Miami, Fla., Memphis, Tenn., Shreveport, La., Kansas City, Mo., Phoenix, Ariz., and Contra
Costa County, Calif.