Background - The National Fire Protection Association estimated that in 1997, 87,500 United States firefighters (8.1 per 100 firefighters) were injured in the line-of-duty. The relative scarcity of epidemiologic research in this area demonstrates the need for further investigation of the factors associated with risk of injury. Objective - The purpose of this analysis was to identify uni-variate risk factors that merit further exploration. Methods - As part of NlOSH's Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, an analysis of the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) - which includes fire incident data on approximately 44% of all U.S. fires, and contains information on the nature of the fire and the extent and method of response - was conducted. Various potential risk factors were analyzed to quantify injury risk. Results - From 1993 to 1997, a total of 4,156,545 fire incidents were reported to NFIRS, of which over 37,000 involved at least one firefighter injury. Significant risk factors were: (a) civilian injury or death (at least one versus none - odds ratio (OR)=10.1, 95% CI = 9.8-10.5), (b) time of day (night versus day - OR = 1.49, 95% CI = 1.46-1.52), (c) level of fire origin (ground versus 10 - 49 feet above ground - OR = 3.4, 95% CI = 3.3-3.5; ground versus below ground - OR = 3.0, 95% CI = 2.9-3.2), and (d) estimated dollar loss (median $100 vs. $17,500, p < 0.001). Conclusion - As epidemiologic studies examining risk factors for line-of-duty injuries to firefighters are a rarity, this analysis provides key information to guide future research, such as the relationship between firefighter and civilian injury, time of day or level of fire origin.
American Journal of Epidemiology, Abstracts of the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, Seattle, Washington, June 15-17, 2000