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Evaluation of a NIOSH Alert to reduce the risks to fire fighters from structural collapse.

ICOH 2002 Oct; :54-55
Deaths and injuries due to structural collapse during fires represent a significant problem among fire fighters. Between 1988 and 1997, structural collapse accounted for 65 of the total 335 fire fighter deaths occurring at structure fires. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Alert entitled Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Fire Fighters due to Structural Collapse provides scientific documentation of this hazard and provides recommendations that fire fighters can engage in to reduce their level of risk. An evaluation was conducted of a national dissemination of this Alert to American fire chiefs. The NIOSH Alert was sent to 36,000 fire chiefs, and a sample of 1,000 was then randomly selected to participate in a survey to evaluate the impact of the Alert on attitudes, intentions, and beliefs toward the NIOSH recommended safety behaviors for structural collapse situations. The Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991) and a stage model of persuasive message impact based on work by McGuire (1985) were used to evaluate the impact of the NIOSH Alert among this national sample of fire chiefs. Regression analyses based on the Theory of Planned Behavior indicated that fire chiefs' attitudes toward engaging in safe behavior during structural fires (b=.305, p<.01), their perceptions of how others felt about them engaging in safe behavior (b=.249, p<.01), and their perceptions of control over these behaviors (b=.317, p<.01) were significant predictors of whether they intended to engage in specific safe behaviors during the next structural fire they were involved in. Analyses of the persuasive impact of the NIOSH Alert were also conducted. Using a stage model of persuasion, the percentage of respondents who reached each stage was calculated. Results suggested that the Alert is well liked (by 93.9% of respondents who recalled being exposed to the Alert)), is easy to read and understand (93.9%), captures attention (82.8%), and leads fire chiefs to think about the dangers of structural collapse (81.5%). However, weaknesses occurred at the following stages: exposure to the Alert, recall of information in the Alert, and action taken with regard to the Alert. Very low percentages of participants reported reaching these stages of persuasion (exposure: 31.2%; recall: 19% of those who were exposed; action: 18% of those exposed). Implications of these findings for developing future safety documents for firefighters will be discussed.
Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Injuries; Occupational-hazards; Risk-analysis; Risk-factors; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Fire-hazards; Emergency-responders
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
Best Practices in Occupational Safety and Health, Education, Training, and Communication: Ideas That Sizzle, 6th International Conference, Scientific Committee on Education and Training in Occupational Health, ICOH, In Cooperation with The International Communication Network, ICOH, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, October 28-30, 2002
Page last reviewed: May 17, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division