Firefighter injuries are not just a fireground problem

D M Frost, T A C Beach, I Crosby, S M McGill
Work: a Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation 2015, 52 (4): 835-42

BACKGROUND: Linking firefighter injury reporting to general motion patterns may provide insight into potential injury mechanisms and the development of prevention strategies.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize the injuries sustained by members of a large Canadian metropolitan fire department over a 5-year span.

METHODS: Data were taken from injury reports filed by career firefighters between 2007 and 2011. Injuries were described by job duty, type, body part affected, and the general motion pattern employed at the time of injury (e.g. lifting).

RESULTS: Of the 1311 injuries reported, 64% were categorized as sprains and strains (musculoskeletal disorders -MSDs), the most frequent of which affected the back (32%). Categorized by job duty, 65% of MSDs were sustained while working at the fire station or during physical training-related activities. Only 15% were attributed to fireground operations. Furthermore, the associated job duty could not differentiate the types of injuries sustained; back injuries occurred primarily while lifting, knee injuries while stepping, and shoulder injuries during pushing/pulling-related activities.

CONCLUSIONS: Firefighter injuries are not just a fireground problem. Injury causation may be better understood by linking the injury location and type with motion patterns rather than job duties. This information could assist in developing general prevention strategies for the fire service.

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