Firefighters are more likely to be injured while exercising than while putting out fires, according to an article published online in Injury Prevention. But carrying patients is the task most likely to cause injuries that require time off from work.
Researchers looked at data for injuries sustained while at work for 21 fire stations serving the metropolitan area of Tucson, Arizona, between 2004 and 2009. The 650 employees included firefighters, paramedics, engineers, inspectors, and battalion chiefs. The average age was 41 years, and all but 5% were men.
During the study period, the average annual incidence of new injuries was 17.7 per 100 employees, most of whom were in their 30s and 40s.
Injuries sustained while exercising accounted for a third of the total, despite the fact that exercising is designed to keep employees in good physical condition, in a bid to stave off the risk of injury while doing their job.
A further 1 in 6 injuries (17%) were caused while transporting patients, and just over 1 in 10 were sustained during simulated training drills. Sprains and strains were the most common type of injury (between 40% and 85%), followed by cuts and bruising. Most (95%) of the injuries were minor in nature.
Only 1 in 10 injuries occurred during firefighting, but a greater proportion of these were more serious. But almost half of time off work for injuries was caused by strains and sprains sustained while transporting patients.