Billions in cost estimated for firefighter injuries

March 24, 2005

Firefighters face a high chance of injury or death whether on the scene of a fire, on the way to a fire or even during training--with an estimated 81,000 injuries and 100 deaths in 2002 alone. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently released a study* that estimates the cost in 2002 of addressing firefighter injuries and of efforts to prevent them to be $2.8 billion to $7.8 billion per year.

The study, conducted by the TriData Division of System Planning Corporation, Arlington, Va., for NIST, considered workers' compensation payments and other insured medical expenses, including long-term care; lost productivity and administrative costs of insurance. It also factored in labor costs of investigating injuries, along with the hours required for data collection, report writing and filing. Other costs related to preventing injuries and reducing their severity included expenditures for insurance coverage, safety training, physical fitness programs and protective gear and equipment.

The range between the $2.8 billion to $7.8 billion reflects different cost estimation models--one with a narrow approach to possible related firefighter injury costs, the others with broader views of economic impacts. Fire departments can use the information to plan their fire prevention and firefighting strategies. NIST plans to use the study as an aid to determining what new research might lead to a reduction in injury costs and to enhanced fire safety.

The study stressed the importance of programs that minimize emergency calls, prevent accidental fires, and reduce the incidents of arson. It also calls for early detection of fires using smoke detectors as well as improved on scene command procedures to locate firefighters and understand threats to them. The study praises firefighter bravery as "legendary and real," but calls for new ways to instill safety awareness in firefighters. It also says that training injuries can be minimized by developing better virtual reality simulations for use in training firefighters.

Other suggested ways to prevent injury and to cut cost include: robots for reconnaissance and firefighting; early (remote) sensing of firefighter injuries/illnesses; computer modeling of deployment scenarios; early detection of building collapse; and emphasis on heightened firefighter health and fitness.
-end-
TriData Division, System Planning Corporation,The Economic Consequences of Firefighter Injuries and Their Prevention. Final Report, NIST GCR 05-874, March 2005

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Related Firefighters Articles from Brightsurf:

Study shows COVID-19 risk to firefighters and emergency medical workers in New York City
Firefighters and emergency medical workers in New York City were 15 times more likely to be infected during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the general public, according to a study published in ERJ Open Research.

Firefighters exposed to more potentially harmful chemicals than previously thought
The on-duty firefighters in the Kansas City, Missouri, area experienced higher exposures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, which are a family of chemicals that are known to have the potential to cause cancer.

COVID-19 medical leave among EMS responders, firefighters in New York
The use of medical leave among emergency medical service responders and firefighters in New York during the COVID-19 pandemic is compared with earlier periods.

Gear treated with 'forever chemicals' poses risk to firefighters
Graham Peaslee's team tested more than 30 samples of used and unused PPE from six specialty textile manufacturers in the United States and found them to be treated extensively with PFAS or constructed with fluoropolymers, a type of PFAS used to make textiles oil and water resistant.

Limit fire service instructors' exposures per month to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease
New research published in Experimental Physiology suggests that fire service instructors are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases due to higher levels of inflammation in their blood, and so their exposure should be limited to nine exposures per month.

Comparing PFAS exposures in female firefighters and office workers
Firefighters have higher rates of some cancers than the general population, which might not be surprising given the many potential carcinogens they encounter while battling blazes.

Women firefighters face high exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals
San Francisco's women firefighters are exposed to higher levels of certain toxic PFAS chemicals than women working in downtown San Francisco offices, shows a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco, and Silent Spring Institute.

Distress tolerance plays role in alcohol use and abuse among firefighters
A newly published report from a University of Houston psychology professor finds that firefighters who struggle with PTSD symptoms, and who think they cannot handle negative emotions, are likely to drink and use alcohol it to cope with negative emotions.

Firefighters can ease one another's job stress, but loving spouses may increase it
Strong same-sex friendships among male firefighters can help cut down on their stress -- but loving relationships with their wives may increase anxiety for those who constantly face danger, according to a Baylor University study.

Is exposure to world trade center disaster associated with cardiovascular disease risk for NY firefighters
A study of nearly 9,800 Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) male firefighters suggests an association between greater exposure to the World Trade Center disaster and long-term cardiovascular disease risk, while the results of other studies have been mixed.

Read More: Firefighters News and Firefighters Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.