Category: Fire Fighting

Extinguishing the Risk of Forever Chemicals: State of the science to protect first responders

Forever Chemicals, aptly named because they are resistant to breaking down, are artificially produced chemicals used to enhance everyday products like stain resistant clothing and furniture, cosmetics, and food packaging material. Scientists refer to them as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS includes thousands of individual compounds that have been used worldwide since the early Read More >

Posted on by Susan M. Moore, PhD; Miriam Calkins, PhD, MS; Stacey Anderson, PhD; Crystal Forester, MS; and Meghan Kiederer, BA4 Comments

Protecting Firefighters

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a long history of working to protect firefighters. Firefighting is an inherently dangerous and vitally important occupation. The United States Fire Administration reported that 1,955 firefighters died in the line of duty from 1998-2019. In addition to injuries and deaths occurring on the fireground, firefighters Read More >

Posted on by Jeff Funke, MS, CSP; Judith Eisenberg, MD, MS; Kenny Fent, PhD, CIH; Matt Bowyer; and Steve Miles2 Comments

COVID-19 and Wildland Firefighters

Wildfires do not stop during a pandemic. The 2020 fire season saw the first-ever single wildfire to burn over 1 million acres, with 44 days at the highest fire preparedness level (and 30 days higher than the 5-year average) when fire personnel and resources are extremely scarce. Circumstances surrounding wildfire incidents can put wildland firefighters Read More >

Posted on by Kathleen Navarro, PhD, MPH; Daniel Hardt, MS, CIH; and Kathleen Clark PhD, MS, RRT1 Comment

Wildland Firefighter Health: Some Burning Questions

While research has not yet been conducted on all the hazards and risks associated with the wildland firefighting job, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is asked numerous questions about the hazards of fighting wildland fires. This blog is designed to answer some of those questions. What Is in Wildland Fire Smoke? Read More >

Posted on by LCDR Corey Butler, MS REHS; CAPT Christa Hale, DVM, MPH, DACVPM (Epi); Kathleen Navarro, PhD, MPH; Elizabeth Dalsey, MA; CAPT Chucri (Chuck) A. Kardous, MS, PE; Pamela S. Graydon, MS, COHC; and CAPT David C. Byrne, Ph.D., CCC-A5 Comments

Summary of Recommendations from the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program from 2006—2014

Since 1998, NIOSH has conducted independent investigations of firefighter line-of-duty deaths and recommended ways to prevent deaths and injuries through the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP). A recent article, “Summary of recommendations from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, 2006–2014” provides information on Read More >

Posted on by Suzanne Marsh, MPA; Sydney Webb, PhD; and Karis Kline, MSLeave a comment

Firefighter Cancer Rates: The Facts from NIOSH Research

In 2010, researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), launched a multi-year study to examine whether firefighters have a higher risk of cancer and other causes of death due to job exposures. The study was a joint effort led by researchers at NIOSH in collaboration with researchers at the National Cancer Read More >

Posted on by Robert D. Daniels, PhD, CHP17 Comments

Noise Exposure Among Federal Wildland Fire Fighters

Hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. NIOSH estimates that 22 million U.S. workers encounter noise exposures loud enough to be hazardous.  Wildland fire fighting (vs. urban/ structural fire fighting), aims to suppress grass, brush, or forest fires (see Figure 1).  Wildland fire fighting is considered a high-risk Read More >

Posted on by George Broyles , LCDR Corey Butler, CAPT Chuck Kardous 1 Comment

Arduous Duty: Using Three Data Sources to Create a Single Wildland Fire Fighter On-Duty Death Surveillance System

Wildland fire fighters are required to pass an “arduous duty” physical fitness test annually to help ensure that they are prepared for the physical nature of the job. Unlike structural fire fighting, wildland fire fighting often requires long work shifts that may last up to 14 continuous days, and often takes place in environments that Read More >

Posted on by CDR Christa Hale, LCDR Corey Butler, and Elizabeth Dalsey, M.A. 2 Comments

Maintaining a Relationship with your Turnout Gear

Sent flowers? Check. Made dinner reservations? Check. Purchased one of those mandatory heart-shaped boxes of candy? Check. Conducted routine cleaning of your turnout gear… wait. What? Valentine’s Day is all about putting in a little extra effort to maintain the important relationships in our lives. Way back in 2013, we began a tradition of taking Read More >

Posted on by Jay Tarley and Jaclyn Krah Cichowicz 3 Comments

Making Alaska a Safer Place to Work

  During 1980-1989, Alaska had the highest work-related fatality rate of any state in the nation, with a rate of 34.8 deaths per 100,000 workers per year compared to the average U.S. rate of 7 deaths per 100,000 workers per year. At the invitation of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, M.D. 12 Comments

Workplace Medical Mystery Solved: Fire Training Officer Lands in Hospital with a Distressing Lung X-Ray

Bob, an experienced firefighter and trainer started to experience chest pain, shortness of breath, and a cough with blood following a firefighter training that he set up and led. At the emergency room, the doctor ruled out a blood clot in his lungs. However, an x-ray did show Bob had small nodules in his lungs. Read More >

Posted on by Stephanie Stevens, MA1 Comment

Workplace Medical Mystery: Fire Training Officer Lands in Hospital with a Distressing Lung X-Ray

Bob was an experienced firefighter. He worked for 17 years as a member of his city’s fire suppression team working his way up to fire captain. After 5 years as captain, Bob decided to transition to the role of fire training officer where he could work five 8-hour shifts per week instead of 24 hour Read More >

Posted on by Stephanie Stevens, MA12 Comments

One Size Does Not Fit All

  When your safety and your life depends on it, you need your equipment to fit properly. This is especially true in the workplace. Improper fit may prevent workers from performing their job duties safely and effectively. If your respirator does not seal properly to your face, if your gloves are too big, if your seatbelt Read More >

Posted on by Hongwei Hsiao, PhD4 Comments

Workplace Suicide

  The research literature on occupation and suicide has consistently identified several occupations at high risk for suicide: farmers, medical doctors, law enforcement officers, and soldiers. However, there are few studies examining suicides that occur in U.S. workplaces. Recently published research from NIOSH, examined suicides occurring in U.S. workplaces between 2003 and 2010 and compared workplace Read More >

Posted on by Hope M. Tiesman, PhD 11 Comments

Is There a Link Between Firefighting and Cancer? – Epidemiology in Action

Epidemiology is the art and science of using data to answer questions about the health of groups. In occupational epidemiology, we use that data to understand how work affects health. This blog entry is part of a series that shares the stories behind the data. Firefighters face numerous hazards in the line of duty. The Read More >

Posted on by Robert D. Daniels, PhD, CHP17 Comments

WTC Rescue/Recovery and Obstructive Airway Disease

  The inhalation of chemicals, particulate matter (dusts and fibers), and the incomplete products of combustion during occupational and environmental disasters has long been associated with respiratory disorders[1]. While there is substantial literature on the association between respiratory diseases and chronic environmental exposures such as air pollution and long term occupational exposure in industries such Read More >

Posted on by Charles B. Hall, PhD6 Comments

Safety and Health for Fire Fighters

This week is the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety and Health Week which encourages fire fighters and emergency responders to work safely. NIOSH has a longstanding history of working to protect firefighters. Through the Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program NIOSH conducts independent investigations of fire fighter line of duty deaths. Below Read More >

Posted on by Timothy R. Merinar, MS 3 Comments

Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

In 1998 the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program was created to conduct independent investigations of fire fighter line of duty deaths and to formulate recommendations for preventing future deaths and injuries. As NIOSH enters the 10th year of the Fire Fighter Program we are working to better reach small and rural fire departments with the results of our fatality investigation reports and prevention recommendations. We request your assistance in helping us achieve this goal. Read More >

Posted on by Administrator9 CommentsTags

Preventing Fire Fighter Fatalities from Cardiovascular Events

Some 1.1 million firefighters selflessly risk their own safety and health for our safety and the safety of our communities. Last month we saw this heroism first hand as over 7,000 firefighters battled the dangerous wildfires in Southern California. Fortunately, no fire fighters lost their lives but 130 suffered injuries as of November 2, according to media reports. It is an inherently dangerous job, but injuries, illnesses, and deaths should not be viewed or accepted as inevitable occurrences. NIOSH and other safety and fire service agencies work to protect fire fighters and prevent the estimated 100 fire fighter fatalities that occur each year. Through its Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, NIOSH investigates the deaths of fire fighters in the line of duty to formulate science-based recommendations for preventing future deaths and injuries. Read More >

Posted on by John Howard, MD 14 CommentsTags ,