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Firefighter injuries may be due more to exercise than fighting fires

November 23, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Fighting fires is a dangerous job, but injuries might be more likely to come from exercise than fire fighting, a study finds.
Fighting fires is a dangerous job, but injuries might be more likely to come… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

Firefighters may have a dangerous job, but most of their injuries might be coming from exercise, not from fighting fires.

A study released online Wednesday in the journal Injury Prevention looked at injuries sustained by 650 firefighters and emergency medical service workers (paramedics, engineers, inspectors and battalion chiefs) at 21 fire stations from 2004 to 2009. The frequency of injuries per year was on average 17.7 per 100 employees.

Almost 33% of all injuries happened during mandatory exercise during a worker's shift. The exercises are geared to keep emergency workers in shape for the types of jobs they do and to prevent injury. Transporting patients accounted for 16.9% of injuries, training drills 11.1% and fireground operations 10.2%.

The vast majority of injuries (about 95%) weren't considered serious, and most were sprains and strains.

"Exploring the root causes of these events and the manner in which physical exercise is performed, monitored and evaluated," the authors wrote, "should be of greater emphasis within the fire service."

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