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Fireground Injuries: An International Evaluation of Causes and Best Practices

Firefighters have a high risk of injuries due in part to the need to perform strenuous activities in a dynamic environment.  Risk management involves the creation and application of standard operating procedures for all processes with significant health and safety risks. Due to past success in implementing risk management using a regulatory approach, the focus of this project was to apply a tailored risk management intervention to reduce injuries in firefighters. These risk management strategies aimed at reducing the incidence of injury were employed for three job-specific tasks within the fire service associated with a high frequency of injury and severity, including physical exercise, the lifting of patients, and fire ground protocols. The intervention consisted of scoping sessions to identify hazards, analysis, and characterization of the risks associated with each job task, an introduction of a set of clear control measures including department-wide training, and a provision of gap analysis identifying the potential need for additional or a combination of intervention strategies. In order to assess for significant change in injury rates over time following each focused intervention strategy, historical data from the Phoenix Fire Department was used. This data was compared to a period of seven years of historical data. Finally, an evaluation of protocol adherence among injured and uninjured firefighters was conducted to determine the success of the risk management strategies. This project was supported by a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program for Fire Prevention and Safety. 

Start Year: 
2009
End Year: 
2012
Researchers: 
Jeff Burgess
Margaret Kurzius-Spencer
Sally Littau

The University of Arizona