Everyday firefighters selflessly work in varied and complex environments that increase their risk of injury and death. Each year the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) releases studies conducted for the previous year to aid in prevention of firefighter loss of life. They meticulously report on firefighter deaths and injuries to provide national statistics on their frequency, extent, and characteristics. Earlier this year, the NFPA reported that there were 69 firefighter fatalities and 62,085 firefighter injuries while on duty in 2016. Of the 69 firefighters who died while on duty in 2016, 39 were volunteer firefighters, 19 were career firefighters, and eight were employees of federal land management agencies. An important part of the yearly study centers around developing a better understanding of how these fatalities and nonfatal injuries can assist in identifying corrective actions which could help minimize the inherent risks of firefighter work. One method of data collection utilized by the NFPA is reviewing standardized incident forms. These documents are sent to the fire departments involved in an incident requesting information on the type of protective equipment worn, the ages and ranks of the firefighters injured, and a description of circumstances that led to injury. A recurring reason cited within the data as one of the factors leading to injury or death was the incorrect use of or absence of personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by the firefighter. PPE designed for the correct task and firefighting ground offers the crew member the ability to perform the job while reducing the risk of injury or loss of life.
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