Firefighters have one of the most dangerous jobs in America. They work directly with hazards that they expect to see in the workplace every day. They aim to save lives and to reduce damage to structures; they perform tasks of all types, from home inspections for fire safety to rescuing families from burning homes.
A July 2013 release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that around 31 firefighters were killed each year between 2009 and 2013. Another 14,700 suffered from injuries and illnesses each year, all caused by their jobs.
Firefighting is incredibly dangerous, and special precautions have to be taken to protect the workers. Many different dangers and hazards exist on the job, from intense flames to chemical exposure. In 2011, it was reported that the fatal injury rate was 2.5 workers per 100,000 firefighters. Nonfatal injuries were marked as 475.2 per 10,000 full-time workers, while other occupations saw only 117.3 out of 10,000.
Most firefighters who were injured were men. In 2011, women accounted for around 8 percent of the nonfatal cases, despite making up only 4.5 percent of employed firefighters. This over-representation of female employees was not directly explained.
The most common causes of fatalities included fires and transportation incidents. In half of said fire-related incidents, the building had collapsed or had parts of the structure collapse inside. Most injuries, comparatively, were related to overexertion and bodily reactions, at 45 percent, while falls, slips and trips made up 14 percent.
Firefighters face more than just hazards on the job. Exhaustion and other issues can build up, making it hard to work. Workers’ compensation can make it possible to get the medical care needed if you’re suffering from mental stress or physical overexertion.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities,” accessed Jan. 31, 2017