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A Comprehensive Framework for Firefighter Health and Safety

Friday, April 19
Classroom Session
Health & Safety

Most firefighters agree with the priority of improving firefighter health and safety, and certainly the vast majority of officers and chiefs have made the assertion that health and safety are one of their top priorities. But, defining what precisely is meant by firefighter health and safety and how they overlap and intersect can be a challenge. One of the greatest challenges to improving firefighter health and safety is creating an evidence-based, comprehensive framework of the myriad risks that firefighters face and developing a strategic plan to mitigate these risks. This class will propose a comprehensive framework for firefighter health and safety based on a synthesis of data from the fire service and scientific research. It will include data on safety and health risks from national reporting systems and qualitative data from safety officers, company officers, and chiefs. Safety risks and programs to reduce those risks will be reviewed, and the latest evidence regarding major health issues in the fire service including a consideration of cardiovascular disease, cancer, behavioral health, heat stress/dehydration/rhabdomyolysis, and more will be presented. Finally, health and safety issues will be considered in the context of the oath that firefighters take to protect their communities.

Denise Smith, Professor - Skidmore College and Illinois Fire Service Institute