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Economic Consequences of Firefighter Injuries and Their Prevention. Final Report.

pdf icon Economic Consequences of Firefighter Injuries and Their Prevention. Final Report. (2465 K)
TriData Corporation

NIST GCR 05-874; 68 p. March 2005.


National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD


fire fighters; injuries; fire prevention; fire data; costs; methodology; fire statistics; motor vehicle accidents; fire safety; cigarettes; insurance


Every occupation brings degrees of safety risk, and one of the higher risk jobs is firefighting. At the scene or on the way to a fire, a multiple vehicle crash, an explosion, or even while training, firefighters face a relatively high chance of being injured, possibly killed. The National Institute of Science and Technology historically has been concerned with the risks to firefighters, and has devoted research to finding ways that reduce the incidence and severity of work-related firefighter injuries. In this latest research effort, NIST seeks to quantify the economic impact that injuries have to firefighters, their departments, the insurance industry, and society. TriData Corporation of Arlington, Virginia, a public safety consulting company, conducted the cost-of-injury research and wrote this report. The research team culled information from a broad search of literature and examined various methodological approaches for insight into models that could be used to calculate the many components that comprise financial losses from injury. Though several previous studies successfully investigated certain aspects of what fires cost, each had limitations, and many dealt broadly with the cost of fire, not the costs of firefighter injuries. Studies of injury-related data, on the other hand, were helpful but did not usually address occupational injuries. When they did, costs were not necessarily a key factor of the research. The study team derived estimates, therefore, using elements of other methods and calculating costs from original research as well. Based on methods applied from two of the more relevant economic studies, the estimated cost of addressing firefighter injuries and of efforts to prevent them is $2.8 to $7.8 billion per year. The cost elements that comprised those two studies were based on workers compensation payments and other insured medical expenses, including long-term care; lost productivity; administrative costs of insurance; and others.