Firefighters face a variety of risks in a demanding job which can force them into complex and dangerous situations, exposing them to injury or even death. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported 60 on-duty firefighters died in 2017, and 58,835 were injured while on the job.
Firefighters in California and elsewhere are also exposed to hazardous chemicals and infectious diseases, which are better cataloged than in the past.
Line of duty injuries
The NFPA’s report detailed the more than 58,000 injuries reported in 2017, which happened both at the scene of a fire or at another location. Highlights of the report include:
- 24,495 injuries at the scene of a fire
- Strains, sprains and muscular pain accounted for almost half of all significant injuries
- The leading cause of injury was overexertion in 29% of cases
- 7,345 firefighters exposed to infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, meningitis and HIV
- 44,530 documented exposures to hazardous chemicals, including asbestos, chemicals, fumes, radioactive material and other substances
- 15,430 collisions involving fire department vehicles responding to or returning from fire calls
Nearly one in five misses work due to injury
The NFPA report concluded that 10,155 injured firefighters, or 17%, were forced to miss work due to their injuries. Overall, the report brought encouraging news that injuries for on-duty firefighters decreased by 5% from the year before. However, the number of injuries at fire scenes increased slightly over 2016.
Workers’ compensation covers injured firefighters
California firefighters who suffer injuries while on the job have a right to collect workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical bills, lost wages and temporary or permanent disability. If a firefighter dies, their family is entitled to claim death benefits on behalf of their loved one. Working with a skilled workers’ compensation attorney here in California will protect the rights of a firefighter and their family to collect the benefits they deserve.