Study looks at persistent pain experienced by firefighters

The study found that firefighters are more likely to experience persistent neck, back and limb pain the longer their careers are


By FireRescue1 Staff

ONTARIO, Canada — A recent study found that firefighters are more likely to experience persistent pain the longer their careers are.

Western News reported that of the 294 firefighters were asked to track their pain over a 13-month period, seventy percent of firefighters had experienced pain in their limbs and back, according to a recent study by the University of Western Ontario.

Of the 294 firefighters were asked to track their pain over a 13-month period, seventy percent of firefighters had experienced pain in their limbs and back. (Photo/Univ. of Western Ontario)
Of the 294 firefighters were asked to track their pain over a 13-month period, seventy percent of firefighters had experienced pain in their limbs and back. (Photo/Univ. of Western Ontario)

“They call themselves the ‘working wounded’ sometimes because they’re well aware they’re suffering musculoskeletal issues,” professor Joy MacDermid said. "A lot of them have to retire early or leave the job they love because of musculoskeletal injuries.”

MacDermid said the study suggests that continuous movements of pulling, twisting and turning can have a long-term impact, and added that no one should have to expect injuries as part of the job.

"Firefighters, both men and women, are all aware of that risk of injury and are prepared to accept that risk because they have such a strong commitment to serve their communities,” she said. “But when there's a high risk of injury, there's always an opportunity to analyze how to reduce the risk."

Hamilton Fire Department Captain Rob D’Amico said accumulating injuries on the job take a toll on firefighters.

"If we're pulling or dragging something, or walking upstairs with high-rise gear and our bunker gear, that can add an extra 100 pounds to our weight," Captain D'Amico said. "Our members get hurt doing their duties. Maybe some of those duties can be done differently and using different techniques – and having a sense of what the injuries are is a good first step."

The study also found that older firefighters are four times more likely to report neck pain and twice as likely to report back and limb pain.

Researchers said the study shows that firefighter tasks should be examined, and a review should be conducted on how teamwork could prevent injury and add ergonomic efficiency. They are developing video analysis to determine whether or not the tasks can be adapted for injury prevention.

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Copyright © 2018 FireRescue1.com. All rights reserved.