Category: Fire Fighting

Tackling Mental Health Challenges in the Public Safety Sector: Implementing and Evaluating Mental Health Programs

  Public safety sector workers including firefighters (structural and wildland), law enforcement officers, emergency medical services (EMS) clinicians, and corrections personnel are at a high risk of occupational exposure to traumatic events and stress. As such, mental health programs are critical for addressing the unique challenges these workers face. Effective programs must be multi-faceted, address Read More >

Posted on by Meghan Kiederer, BA; Hope Tiesman, PhD; Daniel Gerard, MS, RN, NRP; Meret Hofer, PhD; Kristen Wheldon, PsyD; Dana Neitlich, MSW; David Shapiro, BA; Wesley R. Attwood, Dr.CJ; Maryann D’Alessandro, PhD; Suzanne Marsh, MPALeave a comment

A Deeper Look into Protecting Wildland Firefighter Safety and Health

  Wildland firefighters perform a hazardous job in dangerous conditions. Their daily tasks pose risk of burns and other heat-related injuries or illnesses; slips, trips, falls, strains, and sprains; and becoming trapped or injured by equipment or debris.1 In addition, exposures related to fighting fires—especially when it comes to smoke inhalation—have been classified as “carcinogenic,” Read More >

Posted on by Kathleen Navarro DuBose, PhD, MPH; Kenny Fent, PhD, CIH; Rick Swan; & Jay Tarley, CFEILeave a comment

Keeping Junior Firefighters Safe and Healthy: The Fire Department’s Role in Promoting Positive Childhood Experiences

  Historically, junior firefighter programs have been an important recruitment and retention tool for the fire service. Also known as “explorers” or “cadets,” junior firefighters range from 14-17 years of age and are part of volunteer, career, and combination (career/volunteer) fire departments. Most states’ child labor laws limit their participation to only fundraising activities, training, Read More >

Posted on by Wesley R. Attwood, Dr.C.J.; Meghan Kiederer, B.A; Jeffrey R. Funke; Michael Krzeminski; KC Elliott, MA, MPH; Tammy Schaeffer; and Patrick R. Montague8 Comments

Exploring Workers’ Compensation Injury Claims among Firefighters

  A recently published research article explored patterns and characteristics of workers’ compensation injury claims over a 17-year period among firefighters in Ohio. Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) collaborated with the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation (OHBWC) to conduct the study, which provided valuable insights into the occupational health Read More >

Posted on by Tyler D. Quinn, PhD; Suzanne Marsh, MPA; Steven J. Wurzelbacher, PhD; Steven J. Naber, PhDLeave a comment

The National Firefighter Registry for Cancer: Understanding the Link Between Firefighting and Cancer

  Firefighting is a demanding profession that presents many risks from acute injuries on the fireground to long-term illness, like cancer. Firefighters can encounter cancer-causing chemicals by breathing them in, getting them on their skin or in their eyes, or by ingesting them. Exposure to these chemicals can occur while being near burning materials, from Read More >

Posted on by Kenny Fent, PhD, CIH; Miriam R. Siegel, DrPH, MPH; Andrea Wilkinson, MS, LAT, ATC; Alexander C. Mayer, MPH; and Greg W. Hartle, MA2 Comments

Working Hours and Fatigue: Meeting the Needs of American Workers and Employers

In November 2022, the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (AJIM) published a special issue focusing on work-related fatigue. The issue explores factors that may increase work-related fatigue and actions to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses. [1] This issue is a result of discussions and collaborations from the 2019 NIOSH Working Hours, Sleep and Fatigue Forum Read More >

Posted on by Grace Vixama, MPH; Imelda Wong, PhD; and Naomi Swanson, PhD1 Comment

Research Shows Benefits of Reduced Aerial Ladder Rung Spacing

As a critical part of their job, firefighters often climb aerial ladders up to 30 meters (or 98 feet) long and positioned at various angles. Aerial ladders are mechanically-operated, long, extendable ladders mounted on fire trucks and are used to reach high places for extinguishing fires and rescue operations. While climbing, firefighters typically wear heavy Read More >

Posted on by Peter Simeonov, PhD, and Emilee Austin, MALeave a comment

The State of Health Surveillance Across the Public Safety Sector

Surveillance is the cornerstone of public health practice, including in occupational safety and health (OSH). OSH surveillance systems have the ability to generate data that drives decision making and action.1, 2 There are multiple steps in a surveillance system including timely and accurate data collection; data quality monitoring; data management; data analysis; interpretation of results; Read More >

Posted on by Carol Brown, PhD; Suzanne M. Marsh, MPA; Susan M. Moore, PhD; and Meghan Kiederer, BA2 Comments

Researching Risk of Birth Defects Among Children of Male Firefighters

  Over 1.1 million firefighters protect our communities and environment in the United States.1 Firefighters face hazardous conditions and chemicals while on the job, which may have safety and health implications. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation named reproductive health as a priority research topic in 2021. But so far very few studies have evaluated birth Read More >

Posted on by Amel Omari, PhD, MPH; Miriam R. Siegel, DrPH, MPH; and Carissa M Rocheleau, PhD5 Comments

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, BA5 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-A8 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, CHP20 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