Proceedings of the 128th Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Boston, MA, November 13-16, 2000. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association, :234-235
Objective: To describe severe line-of duty injuries among firefighters and identify potential risk factors. Methods: Data from the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS), a national database of fire incidents representing approximately 44% of all U.S. fires, was evaluated for 1991-97. Univariate analyses involving computation of odds ratios (OR) and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were conducted to identify potential risk factors for severe (potentially life threatening) versus moderate (little danger of death or permanent disability) injuries. Results: From 1991 to 1997, a combined total of 81,051 injuries to firefighters were reported to NFIRS. Among reported injuries, over half (54%) were minor in severity while 43% where moderately severe, and 3% were severe, life threatening, and/or fatal. Fireground injuries constituted the majority (93%) of all injuries and were more likely to be severe than all non-fireground injuries combined (OR=1.83, 95%CI=1.54, 2.17). However, more severe injuries occurred while responding to/returning from incidents (OR=1.42, 95%CI=1.13, 1.79) and during medical aid responses (OR=4.63, 95%CI=3.12, 6.87) than on the fireground. Being fatigued (OR=1.71, 95%CI=1.51, 1.94) or physically impaired due to illness or medication (OR=4.34, 95%CI=2.76, 6.83) were also associated with increased odds of severe injury. There was no difference in the odds of sustaining a severe injury by gender (OR=0.889, 95%CI=0.685, 1.15). Conclusion: These preliminary results suggest a possible relationship between injury severity and type of incident or physical condition. Through improved understanding of risk factors associated with injury severity, strategies can be developed that reduce the likelihood of severe firefighter injuries.