Firemen willingly place themselves in the path of danger to keep others safe. This decision also means they can pay a hefty price for helping others survive perilous situations. From bumps and bruises to concussions and fatal burns, firefighters in Nevada suffer injury and fatality rates that are close to those of the national average.
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Injuries and Deaths for Firefighters in Nevada
In 2017, the National Fire Department Registry showed that overall, firefighters in Nevada suffered 2.2 deaths and 9.8 injuries per 1,000 fires. By comparison, the national average was 2.3 deaths and 9.3 injuries per 1,000 fires.
When residential structures were involved, the injury and fatality rate for firefighters in Nevada was 7 fatalities and 29.5 injuries per 1,000 fires. By comparison, the national average was 6.1 fatalities and 24.5 injuries per 1,000 fires. The data shows that firefighters in Nevada have a significantly higher risk of injury or death when responding to house, apartment, and condo fires.
69.6% of fires in Nevada are structure fires, whereas nationally 80.9% of fires are structure fires. Similarly, 65.2% of fires in the state are residential structures which is 12.5% lower than the national average.
About 26.1% of firefighter calls are for vehicle incidents including motor vehicle accidents. This is 10.9% more than the national average of 15.2%.
In Nevada, 71% of firefighters are injured in structure fires, while the national average is 84.2%. Similarly, 62% of these occur in residential structures, while nationally the rate is 76.1%. This means that firefighters in Nevada have a slightly lower risk of injury or death when responding to a structure fire than their peers in other states.
Approximately 11% of injuries to firefighters occur when they are responding to motor vehicle accidents. This is 3.8% higher than the national average.
Nevada Fire Departments and Types of Calls
54.7% of fire departments in Nevada are volunteers. A total of 25.6% are mostly volunteers. Only 8.1% are mostly career, while 11.6% are full-time career. By comparison, 70.5% of fire departments nationwide are volunteers, with 15.9% classified as mostly volunteers. A total of 4.7% are mostly career, while 8.8% are full-time career.
2.9% of calls to firefighters in Nevada are false alarms. A total of 3.2% are service calls, and 13.3% are “good intent” calls. Only 3.5% of all calls that firefighters respond to are actual fires. The majority of firefighters in Nevada are called to respond to EMS calls which comprise 75.9% of all calls to Nevada fire departments.
Nationally, 4.2% of calls to firefighters are for fire response. A total of 7.2% are for service calls, while 8.2% are false alarms. A total of 11.4% are “good intent” calls while 64.2% are EMS calls.
Common Firefighter Injuries
In 2018, 58,250 firefighters suffered injuries in the line of duty. This was a slight decrease of 1% from 2017, and the lowest rate of injuries recorded since 1981. The National Fire Protection Association reports that there were 64 firefighter fatalities in 2018.
In 2018, the NFPA estimated a total of 6,175 exposures to infectious disease including hepatitis, HIV, and meningitis. This equates to an exposure rate of .3 exposures per 1,000 EMS calls conducted by fire departments nationwide in 2018.
NFPA estimates show that approximately 47,150 toxic exposures occurred in 2018. These include exposure to asbestos, radioactive materials, and other hazardous chemicals that can cause neurological injury or lead to the development of cancer. Overall, the NFPA recorded an exposure rate of 14.6 exposures for every 1,000 calls to respond to hazardous conditions.
Nationwide, 15,500 injuries, or roughly 27% of all recorded firefighter injuries resulted in lost time.
Of the firefighters who suffered injuries in 2018, 22,975 occurred while responding to active fires. This amounts to roughly 39% of all injuries. This represented a 6% decrease from fireground injuries recorded in 2017. Further, the rate of fireground injuries has dropped dramatically since 1981. In 1981, 67,5000 injuries occurred while responding to fires.
However, the decreasing rate in injuries doesn’t indicate that firefighting has become safer. That is because over the same period the total number of fires in the United States has also declined by 54%.
Strains and sprains account for 38% of all injuries, while 13% involve toxic inhalation. A total of 11% of injuries involve wounds, cuts, and bruises. A further 10% of injuries are caused by thermal stress, either frostbite or heat exhaustion.
Interestingly, 14,425 motor vehicle collisions involving fire vehicles occurred in 2018 These caused 575 injuries, or approximately 1% of all firefighter injuries nationwide.
While all firefighters risk injury or death in the line of duty, those in urban areas are at greater risk than their rural counterparts. This is due in part to the types of fires they encounter and the frequency of fire related calls they receive.