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Fire fighter suffers cardiac death following structural fire suppression - Kansas.

Smith DL; Hales T
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE F2010-02, 2010 Mar; :1-13
On June 16, 2009, a 50-year-old male paid call fire fighter responded to a structural fire on a hot and humid day. After working approximately 40 minutes, the fire fighter went to on-site rehabilitation where he complained of chest pains. The ambulance crew provided oxygen and began transport to the hospital's emergency department (ED) when the fire fighter lost consciousness. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was initiated, an automated external defibrillator (AED) was attached, and one shock was administered without a change in the fire fighter's clinical condition. Despite advanced cardiac life support administered in the ED, the fire fighter died. The death certificate listed the cause of death as "cardiac arrhythmia due to coronary atherosclerosis and evolving cardiac ischemia and infarct" with fire fighting during hot weather as a contributing factor. NIOSH investigators agree with this assessment and conclude that physical exertion associated with fire suppression activities triggered his sudden cardiac death. NIOSH offers the following recommendations to reduce the risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest among fire fighters at this and other fire departments (FD) across the country. 1. Provide mandatory pre-placement and periodic medical evaluations to all fire fighters consistent with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582. 2. Ensure fire fighters are cleared for duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of firefighting, the personal protective equipment used by fire fighters, and the various components of NFPA 1582. 3. Develop a comprehensive wellness/fitness program for fire fighters to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and improve cardiovascular capacity. 4. Perform an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation. 5. Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) as part of the fire department's (FD) annual medical evaluation program.
Region-7; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Physical-fitness; Medical-screening
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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Fiscal Year
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Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division