"The 2013 fire season has been one of the most catastrophic seasons on record," according to NIOSH. "Nineteen of these deaths occurred during the recent Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona."
So far this year, there have been 23,629 fires that have burned 1.88 million acres of land.
Among the hazards facing firefighters are burnovers/entrapments, heat-related illnesses and injuries, smoke inhalation, vehicle-related injuries, and slips, trips, and falls.
The available resources describe a variety of potential risks and solutions. Rhabdomyolysis: What Wildland Fire Fighters Need to Know, for example, describes the increased risk of this medical condition that "can cause permanent disability and may be fatal," according to NIOSH. Worker Safety During Fire Cleanup includes fact sheets from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention detailing the types of hazards during cleanup efforts such as electrical hazards, carbon monoxide poisoning, musculoskeletal hazards, heat stress, hazardous materials, and confined spaces.
Another document, 6 Minutes for Safety, describes extreme fire behavior and what should be discussed with employees. "Mild, moderate and extreme fire behavior has always been present in cases of shelter deployment," the document explains. "It is critical for firefighters to maintain situational awareness of live and dead fuel moisture conditions as well as predicted and current weather conditions. As fire behavior changes, it is critical to act decisively to the changing situation."
Other available resources include:
- NIOSH Wildland Fire Fighter Safety and Health blog.
- Preventing Heat-related Illness or Death of Outdoor Workers.
- Promoting Hearing Health Among Fire Fighters.
- Preventing Fire Fighter Fatalities Due to Heart Attacks and Other Sudden Cardiovascular Events.
- Hazard ID: Fire Fighters Exposed to Electrical Hazards During Wildland Fire Operations.
The publications are available in English and Spanish.
By Nancy Grover
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 9, 2013
Copyright 2013© LRP Publications