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Study says firefighters more often injured during exercise

For firefighters in Columbus, Ohio, this news may be no surprise. But to people who are not firefighters, a new study presents some interesting information. Known throughout the workforce as one of the most likely professions to receive an occupational injury, injured firefighters often have the chance to receive workers' compensation.

New research is showing that most injuries incurred by firefighters do not take place while fighting fires. After analyzing 650 firefighters, inspectors, paramedics, battalion chiefs and engineers, the analysis found that many injuries actually occur during exercise. Injury data from 21 fire stations between 2004 and 2009 were examined, and the study showed that approximately a third of workplace injuries happened during exercise. This means that with an injury rate of 17.7 per 100 employees, about six are hurt while exercising.

The information studied showed that 95 percent of firefighters in the sample were men and the average age was 41 years old. Most often injured were individuals in their 30s and 40s. Interestingly, another tenth of injuries happened during training drills.

Only 10 percent of injured firefighters were hurt during firefighting, and 17 percent were injured while transporting a patient. According to the study, injuries received while performing these two functions were often much worse than injuries sustained while exercising.

Some have pointed toward the decrease of structural fires since the introduction of smoke detectors. A decrease in the number of cigarette smokers may also have contributed to this decline in fires. Despite firefighters fighting fewer fires, stations around the country send their men and women out to respond to other emergencies as well.

Source: United Press International, "Firefighters: Exercise riskier than job," Nov. 25, 2011

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