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Public Safety Sector Description

In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated nearly 2 million career public safety workers were employed in corrections, emergency medical services, fire fighting, and law enforcement. More than 1 million volunteers provide fire fighting and emergency medical services in many locations throughout the country. A variety of occupational hazards potentially affect the health of these workers.

Public Safety Worker Population

Occupational GroupLocalStateFederal
Police & Detective Supervisors78,02013,0406,560
Fire Fighter Supervisors53,7802,660 
Corrections Supervisors14,55028,0901,380
Police, Sheriff & Detectives602,73076,40054,960
Fire Fighters (Career)279,5305,9008,780
Fire Fighters (Volunteer)812,1501  
Corrections Workers160,310256,88015,590
EMT & Paramedics (Career)64,1201,350 
EMT & Paramedics (Volunteer)244,4082  

Sources:  BLS May 2009 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates 
1  National Volunteer Fire Council Fire Service Fact Sheet (2011) 
2  EMS Workforce for the 21st Century: A National Assessment (June 2008)


The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for this group are:

92212Police Protection
92214Correctional Institutions
92216Fire Protection
115310Firefighting, forest
62191Ambulance Services

For more information about the Public Safety sector, please see the  North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Web site

Employment data, such as occupational titles, numbers employed, and salary distributions can be accessed through the links below.

NAICS Codes for:
999000 -  Federal, State, and Local Government 
SOC Group 33-000 -  Protective Service Occupations

Health Risks and Fatalities

States with Federally-approved Occupational Safety and Health programs provide Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) data on government employees to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These sparse data are available on occupational injury and illness risks for public safety workers in the U.S.  SOII  data that are provided by a few States and indicate elevated risks for injuries due to assaults and violent acts for police and corrections employees. Firefighters experience occupational injuries due to overexertion and overexertion with lifting. Transportation incidents are the leading cause of occupation fatalities for local and state police, as well as firefighters. Assaults and violent acts are also frequent causes of fatalities for local police, and falls cause many firefighter deaths.

Source:  Rand 2004 (Draft NEISS Data, 1996-1998)

Effective interventions would reduce injury and fatality risks among public safety workers, especially for transportation incidents. The Public Safety Sector Council has identified the needs for many specific interventions. The  Sector Agenda  also stresses the need for more complete surveillance data and analysis.

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  • Page last reviewed: December 3, 2012
  • Page last updated: December 3, 2012 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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