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Economic Impact of Firefighter Injuries in the United States

According to NFPA’s most recent study on firefighter injuries, 68,085 firefighter injuries were reported in the U.S in 2015. Of these, 29,130 occurred at the fireground. Strain, sprain, muscular pain resulted in more than half of the injuries received during fireground operations (53%) and non-fireground activities (60%). In addition to injuries, there were 8,350 documented exposures to infectious diseases (e.g., hepatitis, meningitis, HIV, other) in 2015. This amounts to one exposure per 2,500 emergency medical service runs by fire departments. There were an estimated 27,250 documented exposures to hazardous conditions (e.g. asbestos, chemicals, fumes, radioactive materials, other) in 2015. This amounts to one exposure per 40 hazardous condition runs by fire departments. In 2015, there were an estimated 16,600 collisions involving fire department emergency vehicles responding to or returning from incidents. This is the highest number of collisions since NFPA began collecting this information in 1990.

NFPA’s firefighter injury studies indicate that although other loss indicators of the nation’s fire problem are declining, the rate of firefighter injury per fire incident is not. A deeper understanding of the costs associated with these injuries will illuminate their impact on the nation’s resources dedicated to fire safety and provide benchmarks to evaluate strategies to reduce these numbers in the future.

Research goal: The overall goal of this project is to assess the economic impact of firefighter injuries in the United States. Building upon existing information on firefighter injuries available from NFPA and other sources, and the broader literature related to the indirect and direct costs of injuries, the project will: 1) characterize the annual number and types of firefighter injuries; 2) research both indirect and direct costs of these injuries borne by firefighters and their communities; 3) establish and utilize a framework to assess and benchmark these costs; and 4) communicate the results of this study broadly in the fire service community.

Download the project summary(PDF)