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FIGHTING WILDFIRES

Wildland Firefighter Hotshot Crew moves toward water resupply point before resuming duties. Image provided by is US Forest Service Technology and Development Program.

Wildland Firefighter Hotshot Crew moves toward water resupply point before resuming duties. Image provided by US Forest Service Technology and Development Program.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of acres of land burn across the United States and wildland fire fighters (WFFs) are asked to protect our lives, our homes, and our forests. But fires are unpredictable and dangerous. Between 2000-2016, based on data compiled in the NIOSH Wildland Fire Fighter On-Duty Death Surveillance System from three data sources, over 350 on-duty WFF fatalities occurred. 1,2,3  Common hazards faced on the fire line can include burnovers/entrapments, heat-related illnesses and injuries, smoke inhalation, vehicle-related injuries (including aircraft), slips, trips, and falls, and others.4  In addition, due to prolonged intense physical exertion, WFFs are at risk for sudden cardiac deaths, and rhabdomyolsis.

NIOSH offers resources for fire departments, fire fighters, and partner organizations to prevent on-duty injuries, illnesses, and deaths from hazards and exposures associated with fighting wildfires.

CDC and NIOSH also provide resources for responders in conducting rescue and clean-up activities.

Learn how wildland fire fighters can stay safe and healthy at work:


References

  1. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Fire Administration (US). [2017] Fire Fighter Fatalities in the United States. Date accessed: January, 2017.
  2. National Wildfire Coordinating Group, Risk Management Committee. [2017] Safety Gram Archive. Date Accessed January, 2017.
  3. National Fire Protection Association (US). [2017]  Fatalities and Injuries. Date accessed: January, 2017.
  4. Britton C, et al., Epidemiology of injuries to wildland firefighters. Am J Emerg Med. 2013 Feb; 31(2):339-45. [Epub 2012 Nov 15].
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