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Overexertion Is the Top Cause of Firefighter Deaths in 2014

November 17, 2015 | Dominique A. Penson

Statistics on line-of-duty deaths in 2014 contained some good news for the firefighting community. The National Fire Protection Association reports that fatalities were down significantly from 97 recorded deaths in 2013 to 64 in 2014. Seven vehicle fatalities was the second lowest total over the past 30 years, and those were volunteer firefighters. Among career firefighters, there have been only three motor vehicle fatalities nationally in the last five years.

According to a report from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, 58 percent of firefighter deaths nationally were due to overexertion, resulting in a sudden cardiac episode or stroke. Most sudden cardiac deaths occurred in firefighters over the age of 50, and most were volunteer firefighters.

These statistics underscore the importance of physical conditioning, especially aerobic training, for firefighters. Older firefighters must maintain a healthy exercise regimen and should be realistic about their capacity to remain in a physically demanding profession as they get on in years. But younger firefighters should not take heart health for granted. Last year two cardiac deaths occurred in firefighters between 21 and 30, and one in those between 31 and 40.

Leadership must also be aware of the role overexertion plays in firefighter injury and death. Proper training and properly functioning equipment are essential for alleviating the physical burdens that firefighters face on the job. Effective management and supervision of personnel at the scene is also crucial for preventing firefighters from driving themselves to the point of injury or death.

If you have questions about your legal rights following an on-the-job injury, speak to a knowledgeable firefighter attorney at Barasch & McGarry. Call us at [ln::phone] or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation.


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