Majority of firefighter injuries at fire scene occur when battling home fires

Published on June 1, 2009
NFPA calls for home fire sprinklers to reduce firefighter injuries

June 1, 2009 – About three in five firefighters injured at the scene of a structure fire (2003-2006) were battling one- and two-family home fires at the time, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report Patterns of Firefighter Fireground Injuries (PDF, 82 KB) released today. Of the nearly 34,450 firefighters hurt at structure fires on average annually during this period, nearly 21,000 were on the scene of a fire at a one- or two-family home.

NFPA recently launched the Fire Sprinkler Initiative: Bringing Safety Home to encourage communities to mandate home fire sprinklers in new one- and two-family homes to save lives, prevent injuries, and protect property.

“Avoiding fires altogether is by far the best scenario for everyone’s health and well-being, civilians and fire service alike,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of communications. “But in the event there is a fire, home sprinklers are a proven way to save the lives of residents. Home sprinklers will also reduce deaths and injuries among the men and women of the fire service who respond to these fires.” According to NFPA, there are nearly 298,000 one- and two-family home fires each year.

There was an estimated annual average of 40,270 firefighter fireground injuries in the U.S. in 2003-2006. Of these, an average of 29,710 were minor, and 10,560 were moderate or severe. Other key findings from the report:

  • The leading types of minor injuries were strain or sprain accounting for an annual average of 7,035 injuries or (24%); pain only, accounting for 3,345 injuries (12%); thermal burns only, accounting for 3,415 injuries (11%); cut or laceration, accounting for 2,695 injuries (9%).
  • The leading types of moderate and severe injuries were strains or sprain accounting for an annual average of 3,635 injuries a year, or 34%; thermal burn, accounting for 940 injuries (9%); pain only, accounting for 920 injuries (9%).
  • The leading causes of moderate and severe injuries were slipping, falling, or tripping (3,095 or 29%).
  • The leading type of activity at time of injury for both minor and major injuries involved handling hose lines.
  • The highest injury rates per 100 fires occurred in the midnight to 8:00 a.m. timeframe.

The Fire Sprinkler Initiative, a project of the National Fire Protection Association, is a nationwide effort to encourage the use of home fire sprinklers and the adoption of fire sprinkler requirements for new construction.

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

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Contact: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275