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Public Safety Sector Description

In 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated nearly 2 million career public safety workers were employed in corrections, emergency medical services, fire fighting, and law enforcement. More than 1 million volunteers provide fire fighting and emergency medical services in many locations throughout the country. A variety of occupational hazards potentially affect the health of these workers.

Public Safety Worker Population

Occupational Group Local State Federal
Police & Detective Supervisors 78,020 13,040 6,560
Fire Fighter Supervisors 53,780 2,660  
Corrections Supervisors 14,550 28,090 1,380
Police, Sheriff & Detectives 602,730 76,400 54,960
Fire Fighters (Career) 279,530 5,900 8,780
Fire Fighters (Volunteer) 812,1501    
Corrections Workers 160,310 256,880 15,590
EMT & Paramedics (Career) 64,120 1,350  
EMT & Paramedics (Volunteer) 244,4082    

Sources:   BLS May 2009 National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates  
1   National Volunteer Fire Council Fire Service Fact Sheet (2011)  
2   EMS Workforce for the 21st Century: A National Assessment (June 2008)

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for this group are:

92212 Police Protection
92214 Correctional Institutions
92216 Fire Protection
115310 Firefighting, forest
62191 Ambulance Services

For more information about the Public Safety sector, please see the   North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Web site

Employment data, such as occupational titles, numbers employed, and salary distributions can be accessed through the links below.

NAICS Codes for:
999000 -   Federal, State, and Local Government  
SOC Group 33-000 -   Protective Service Occupations

Health Risks and Fatalities

States with Federally-approved Occupational Safety and Health programs provide Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) data on government employees to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These sparse data are available on occupational injury and illness risks for public safety workers in the U.S.   SOII   data that are provided by a few States and indicate elevated risks for injuries due to assaults and violent acts for police and corrections employees. Firefighters experience occupational injuries due to overexertion and overexertion with lifting. Transportation incidents are the leading cause of occupation fatalities for local and state police, as well as firefighters. Assaults and violent acts are also frequent causes of fatalities for local police, and falls cause many firefighter deaths.

Source:   Rand 2004 (Draft NEISS Data, 1996-1998)

Effective interventions would reduce injury and fatality risks among public safety workers, especially for transportation incidents. The Public Safety Sector Council has identified the needs for many specific interventions. The   Sector Agenda   also stresses the need for more complete surveillance data and analysis.

Questions or Comments?

If you have any questions or comments, contact the NORA Coordinator, or the Public Safety Program Coordinator at

Sidney C. Soderholm, PhD
NORA Coordinator
William E. Haskell, M.S.
NORA Public Safety Council Co-Chair