On May 6, 2002, a 38-year-old male volunteer Fire Fighter (FF) was dispatched by his combination fire department (FD) (he was also a member of another career FD) to a mobile home fire near his home. After responding and assisting with fire suppression, he returned home. At some time during the day, he suffered an unwitnessed sudden cardiac death. He was found by a friend in the evening. No resuscitation measures were initiated and the FF was pronounced dead at the scene by the County Coroner. The death certificate, completed by the County Coroner, and the autopsy, performed by the Medical Examiner, listed "cardiac arrhythmia" as the immediate cause of death due to "stress of fighting fire" and "cardiomegaly with dilatation" as contributing factors. The following recommendations address some general health and safety issues. This list includes some preventive measures that have been recommended by other agencies to reduce the risk of on-the-job heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest among fire fighters. These selected recommendations have not been evaluated by NIOSH, but represent published research, or consensus votes of technical committees of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) or fire service labor/management groups: 1. Consider conducting exercise stress tests for fire fighters with two or more risk factors for coronary artery disease (CAD). Although unrelated to this fatality, the Fire Department should consider these recommendations based on health and economic considerations: 1. Provide mandatory annual medical evaluations to fire fighters consistent with NFPA 1582 to determine their medical ability to perform duties without presenting a significant risk to the safety and health of themselves or others; 2. Perform a pre-placement and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for ALL fire fighters to ensure they are physically capable of performing the essential job tasks of structural fire fighting; 3. Phase in a mandatory wellness/fitness program for fire fighters to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and improve cardiovascular capacity; and, 4. Provide adequate fire fighter staffing to ensure safe operating conditions.
Region-4; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Heart; Physical-stress; Physical-fitness; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Medical-screening; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-function; Cardiovascular-system; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Medical-examinations; Medical-monitoring; Medical-screening