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Notice to Readers NIOSH Alert: Request for Assistance in Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) periodically issues alerts on workplace hazards that have caused death, serious injury, or illness to workers. One such alert, Request for Assistance in Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters (1) was recently published and is available to the public. *

This alert warns fire departments to review their safety programs and emergency operating procedures because failures to establish and follow these programs and procedures are resulting in injuries and deaths of fire fighters. Based on reports to the National Fire Protection Association, 280 fire fighters died and approximately 100,000 were injured in the line of duty during 1990- 1992, and based on reports to the NIOSH National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities Surveillance System, 278 fire fighters died from traumatic injuries during 1980-1989. The International Association of Fire Fighters reported that 1369 professional fire fighters died in the line of duty during 1970-1994.

NIOSH has identified four factors essential to protecting fire fighters from injury and death: 1) following established firefighting policies and procedures, 2) implementing an adequate respirator-maintenance program, 3) establishing firefighter accountability at the fire scene, and 4) using personal-alert safety-system devices at the fire scene. Deficiencies in any of these procedures can create a life-threatening situation for fire fighters. The publication describes a case report in which two fire fighters died during a fire in a high-rise apartment building because these procedures were not followed. Recommendations are provided for fire departments and fire fighters to prevent injury and death.


  1. NIOSH. Request for assistance in preventing injuries and deaths of fire fighters. Cincinnati: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1994; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)94-125.

    • Single copies of this document are available without charge from the Publications Office, Division of Standards Development and Technology Transfer, NIOSH, CDC, Mailstop C-13, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998; telephone (800) 356-4674 ({513} 533-8328 for persons outside the United States); fax (513) 533-8573.

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