On December 18, 2003, a 55-year old, male, career Fire Fighter (FF) finished his 14-hour night shift at approximately 0700 hours and went home. He was supposed to return to duty at 1700 hours, but did not return to his station. Since he had not notified station personnel of taking time off, his station Captain contacted the fire station closest to the FF's home and requested their station personnel go to the FF's home and check on him. Upon arrival at the FF's home, fire personnel placed an extension ladder to a second floor bedroom window, ascended the ladder, and saw the FF lying in bed. Attempts to arouse the FF were unsuccessful and forcible entry was made into the home. Fire personnel assessed the FF and found him to be deceased for at least several hours. No resuscitation measures were attempted. An ambulance and police were summoned and upon arrival of the ambulance, he was pronounced dead. The death certificate and autopsy, completed by the Medical Examiner, listed "arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease" as the immediate cause of death. 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. These recommendations would probably not have changed the outcome in this case. Although unrelated to this fatality, the Fire Department (FD) should consider these recommendations based on health and economic considerations: 1. Phase in a mandatory wellness/fitness program for fire fighters to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and improve cardiovascular capacity; 2. Discontinue the routine use of annual chest x-rays unless specifically indicated; and, 3. Continue providing mandatory annual medical evaluations to ALL 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.
Region-3; 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