Heart health is a critical issue in the fire and emergency services. Below are studies and reports that provide further information regarding first responder health, as well as the results of the health screenings conducted by the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program.
Reports and Statistics
Emergency Duties and Deaths from Heart Disease among Firefighters in the United States
This 2007 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that firefighters are at a greater risk of dying from a heart attack while responding to emergencies. It concluded that emergency firefighting duties were associated with a risk of death from coronary heart disease that was markedly higher than the risk associated with nonemergency duties. Fire suppression was associated with the highest risk, which was approximately 10 to 100 times as high as that for nonemergency duties.
USFA Firefighter Fatality Annual Reports
Each year the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) releases a report that examines the on-duty firefighter fatalities for that year. The report includes the causes of death as well as a breakdown of career versus volunteer firefighters. Heart attack is consistently the leading cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities.
Firefighter Sudden Cardiac Death - 1999-2009
The National Fire Protection Association provides statistics on the number of volunteer and career firefighters who suffered sudden cardiac death between 1999 and 2009.
Working Inside the Firehouse: Developing a Participant-Driven Intervention to Enhance Health-Promoting Behaviors
This study conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council sought to understand cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk among volunteer firefighters and develop a CVD intervention based on firefighter input. The study was supported by an Assistance to Firefighters Grant and the results were released in May 2013.
Addressing the Epidemic of Obesity in the United States Fire Service
The NVFC, thanks to support from the U.S. Fire Administration, partnered with the HOPE Health Research Institute to conduct a study on obesity in the fire service. The report looks at the impact of obesity, the scope of obesity in the fire service, and why obesity has become an epidemic, and then highlights innovative trends in nutrition and fitness that firefighters can utilize and presents recommendations for the fire service for combating obesity and increasing fitness.
Obesity and Incident Injury Among Career Firefighters in the Central United States
This study looks at the relationship between obesity and musculoskeletal injuries among firefighters. It provides the first prospective evaluation of obesity as a risk factor for incident injury among firefighters in a population-based cohort.
Physician Weight Recommendations for Overweight and Obese Firefighters, United States, 2011-2012
This study from the CDC gathered data on a national sample of male career firefighters to determine the rate of health care provider (HCP) weight recommendations as well as the association of age and body mass index with HCP weight recommendations. The study found that overweight and obese firefighters, particularly those who are younger, do not consistently receive HCP advice to lose weight, marking a missed opportunity to reduce firefighter obesity-related health outcomes.
Critical Health and Safety Issues in the Volunteer Fire Service
This report, released in 2010, addresses key findings of a study on the critical health and safety issues in the volunteer emergency services as well as provides information on initiatives, programs, and strategies currently available to help reduce fatalities among the nation’s first responders. Highlighted issues include obesity, heart attack, stress, sleep deprivation, behavioral health, and substance abuse.
The NVFC Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program has partnered with L&T Health and Fitness, an award-winning fitness and health management company, to conduct health screenings at state and national trade shows since 2004. Click on the reports below to view the results of these screenings.
2008 - FDIC
2008 - Fire Expo
2008 - Firehouse Expo
2008 - Fire-Rescue International