“The Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 on Firefighter Health:” Access the webinar and provide experiential input via a quick research survey

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely changed the lives and well-being of everyone globally. As the pandemic has progressed, clinicians and scientists have become increasingly alarmed with what has been termed as “Long COVID” or “COVID-LONG” – continued symptoms of COVID-19 that last three weeks or more after the diagnosis.

Firefighters and EMS personnel are at the frontline of emergency response, and they are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, specifically when responding to emergency medical calls from infected public citizens as well as through various other exposure pathways. The NFPA "Firefighter Fatalities in the US in 2020" report indicates that in 2020, more firefighters died from COVID-19 in the U.S. than any other line-of-duty death cause. Firefighters are always in high-risk environments performing the most physically demanding job, but “Long COVID” is creating apprehension in the fire service these days. The good news is that a new FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) is currently supporting research looking into the long-term health effects of COVID-19 and how the fire service can comprehend and manage the risks from the pandemic and safeguard firefighter health and safety.

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), the research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is a project partner for this research effort titled, “Continuing the Fight Against COVID Together (C-FACT). The research is being led by Dr. Denise Smith from Skidmore College and Dr. Sara Jahnke from the Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research in partnership with Dr. Steven Moffat, an occupational medicine physician from Indianapolis and multiple fire departments.

During the recent FPRF “The Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 on Firefighter Health” webinar, Dr. Smith and Dr. Jahnke provided scientific information on the risks of COVID-LONG, Dr. Moffat spoke about the challenges faced by firefighters as they return to duty following COVID infection, and retired Fire Chief Haigh shared perspective on dealing with firefighters who may suffer long-term symptoms that could interfere with work or increased risk of health-related issues. The webinar recording is available on demand here.

This two-year research study requires critical input from the fire service. The research entails the collection of information from members of the fire service about their experiences with COVID-LONG. All firefighters are invited to participate in this survey. Participation in the survey is voluntary; it is estimated that the web-based survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Thank you, in advance, for your valued participation. 

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Sreenivasan Ranganathan
Director, Research Foundation, Mission to plan, manage and communicate research in support of the NFPA mission