Cancer, Injuries and Other Illnesses
Fire fighters may be exposed to a variety of hazards. At NIOSH, we research possible health effects that may occur from structural fire exposures. Here you will find information on our current projects and published studies.
Study of Cancer among U.S. Fire Fighters
In 2010, NIOSH researchers, with funding assistance from the U.S. Fire Administration launched a multi-year study to examine whether fire fighters have a higher risk of cancer and other causes of death due to job exposures. Our study was designed to address limitations of previous fire fighter cancer research. Learn more about the project.
- Mortality and cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia, 1950–2009* (2013)
- Cancer incidence among male Massachusetts firefighters, 1987–2003 (2008)
- Mortality in Florida professional firefighters, 1972 to 1999 (2005)
- Cancer incidence and general mortality in a cohort of Florida firefighters (2003)
- Mortality among fire fighters: A 27 state survey (1994)
*Access to this journal article is per BMJ guidelines (http://group.bmj.com/products/journals/instructions-for-authors/wholly_owned_licence.pdf).
- Fire, police and EMT (Conference Proceedings 2005)
- A prospective longitudinal study of duty related injuries in urban fire fighters (Research Symposium 2000)
- Fatality Investigation Reports
- Applying findings from NIOSH investigations: incident command, safety officers and rapid intervention (2010)
- Occupational injuries among emergency responders (2010)
- Fatal injuries among volunteer workers — United States, 1993—2002 (2005)
- Cause, type, and workers’ compensation costs of injury to fire fighters (2003)
- Evaluation of a NIOSH Alert to reduce the risks to fire fighters from structural collapse (2002)
- Roadside assistance (2001)
- Request for assistance in preventing injuries and deaths of fire fighters (1994)
- An Epidemiologic Study of Injuries in Firefighters (1990)
Fire fighters may be exposed to many hazards during the course of their job, including noise. NIOSH recommends workplace noise exposures not exceed an 8-hour time-weighted average of 85 dBA (based on a 3-dB exchange rate). Using these guidelines, we published a revised criteria document to prevent occupational hearing loss, Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Noise Exposure. [PDF 4340 KB, 122 pages] Routine fire fighting tasks and emergency response activities often result in noise exposure that exceeds NIOSH recommendations. Repeated exposure may gradually cause work-related hearing loss.
To prevent hearing impairment among fire fighters, we recommend using engineering and administrative controls to limit overall exposure to noise. When controls are not possible, we recommend hearing protection training and limiting noise exposures.
- Time-weighted averages and fire fighter hearing loss (2004)
- Noise and hearing loss in firefighting (1995)
- Health hazard evaluation report: HETA 89-0026-2495 Hamilton Fire Department, Hamilton, Ohio (1995)
- Health hazard evaluation report: HETA 88-0290-2460 Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1994)
- Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-87-352-2097, International Association of Fire Fighters, Anaheim, California (1991)
- Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-86-138-2017, Memphis Fire Department, Memphis, Tennessee (1990)
- Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-84-454-1890, International Association of Fire Fighters, Cincinnati, Ohio (1988)
Sudden death from a heart event is the most common cause of death among fire fighters.1 Most heart disease can be prevented. This page lists publications from our studies of heart health among fire fighters.
1 NIOSH Alert: Preventing fire fighter fatalities due to heart attack and other sudden cardiac events (2007) Publication No: 2007-133
- Fatality Investigation Reports
- NIOSH Alert: Preventing fire fighter fatalities due to heart attack and other sudden cardiac events (2007) Publication No: 2007-133
- NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Reports: Cardiac Events
- Fire fighter wellness regime (2011)
- Physiological recovery from firefighting activities in rehabilitation and beyond (2011)
- Cardiovascular risks in firefighters: implications for occupational health nurse practice (2004)
- Health Hazard Evaluation: HETA 94-0390-2822 Anaheim Fire Department, Anaheim, California (2000)
- Correlates of fitness for duty in hazardous materials firefighters (1999)
At NIOSH, we study musculoskeletal injuries that may result while on the job. This page lists publications from our research to address these kinds of injuries among fire fighters.
- Designing ergonomic interventions for EMS workers: concept generation of patient-handling devices (2008)
- Ergonomic comparison of a chem/bio prototype firefighter ensemble and a standard ensemble (2008)
- Designing ergonomic interventions for the fire service (2007)
- Designing ergonomic interventions for EMS workers – part II: lateral transfers (2007)
- Designing ergonomic interventions for emergency medical services workers – part III: bed to stairchair transfers (2007)
- Ergonomic study of fire service musculoskeletal injuries (1997)
- A case management tool for occupational health nurses. Development, testing, and application (1994)
At NIOSH, we assess many different health concerns among fire fighters. This page lists conference presentations and publications from our studies of various hazards among fire fighters.
- Acute respiratory effects of smoke exposure in wildland firefighters (NORA Symposium 2006)
- Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with decline in lung function in firefighters (Research Symposium 2006)
- Fatality Investigation Reports
- Health Hazard Evaluation: HETA 2007-0012-3046 Tuberculin skin test conversions at a Mississippi fire department, City of Meridian Fire Department, Meridian, Mississippi (2007)
- Particle size-dependent radical generation from wildland fire smoke (2007)
- Acute respiratory effects of smoke exposure in wildland firefighters (2005)
- Blood-borne pathogens among firefighters and emergency medical technicians (2005)
- Adverse respiratory effects following overhaul in firefighters (2001)
- Neurodegenerative diseases: occupational occurrence and potential risk factors, 1982 through 1991 (1996)
- Health Hazard Evaluation: HETA 90-0395-2121 International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Sedgwick County, Kansas (1991) (Heat stress)
- Page last reviewed: June 21, 2017
- Page last updated: June 21, 2017
- Content source:
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies (DSHEFS)