It seems that every young boy (and some girls) goes through a phase where they want to be a firefighter. That urge passes for many, sometimes after realizing how dangerous an occupation it is. A study by the National Library of Medicine looks at the rate of fatalities and injuries to determine just how dangerous a profession is. The bottom line is that approximately 100 firefighters suffer fatal injuries on the job each year in the United States, with tens-of-thousands more injured.
How the injuries occur
Common reasons for firefighter injuries include:
- Removal or dislodging equipment
- Equipment’s failure to protect the victim
- Training errors
- Excessive heat cause sweat to boil under their gear
The nature of the injuries
The most common parts of body burned are:
- Face: 29% of injuries
- Hands, wrists and ears: 16% of injuries
- Neck: 10%
- Arm and legs: 6.5%
- Knees and shoulders: 3%
Hot liquid, heat or steam often cause injury by seeping through cracks in protective gear.
Better prevention needed
The study recommended that safety gear design needs to reduce the number and impact of the injuries. It also cited gaps in educating firefighters on how to use the safety gear properly. The mean length of hospitalization was 2.45 days, but that understates the impact of these injuries. While most of the victims survive, that’s little consolation to the 100 families who suffer the loss of a loved one. Moreover, life-changing burns often are disfiguring or require surgery.
The unions protect their own, but families still may need to take action against manufacturers of faulty equipment or the department for failure to provide adequate gear or training. Those with concerns can talk to a personal injury attorney with experience handling burns and fire-related injuries.