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PW: 1806 Determinants of injury and death among canadian firefighters
  1. Rachel Ramsden1,
  2. Jennifer Smith1,
  3. Kate Turcotte1,
  4. Len Garis2,
  5. Kenneth Kunz3,
  6. Paul Maxim4,
  7. Ian Pike1,5
  1. 1BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2Surrey Fire Department, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3Medical Oncology Consultant, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  4. 4University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada
  5. 5University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


Professional firefighters are exposed to a variety of injury hazards over the course of their occupation, including: extreme temperatures, toxic substances, strenuous physical labour, unstable structures, falling objects, extreme heights, violence and traumatic events. The purpose of this study is to describe the determinants of injury, disease and death among Canadian firefighters by age, gender, region, and employment status. A descriptive analysis of the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada and WorkSafeBC data was undertaken to define priority issues for targeted intervention. Outcome measures included time-loss and fatality claims accepted by compensation boards between 2006 and 2015, and submitted by professional and volunteer firefighters over the age of 14 years.

An analysis of AWCBC data revealed five principal determinants of injury and death among Canadian firefighters: cancer, traumatic injury, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and mental health. Cancer represented over 86% of all fatality claims, while traumatic injuries represented 90% of all time-loss claims among firefighters. Firefighter time-loss claims due to traumatic injury occurred at a rate of 1,661.3 per 1 00 000 firefighter population per year. Mental health was the third leading cause of time-loss claims among Canadian firefighters, occurring at a rate of 23.95 per 1 00 000 firefighter population per year. Volunteer firefighters in British Columbia reported lower rates of time-loss claims per 1 00 000 firefighter population than professional firefighters for traumatic injury, cancer, mental health, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.

Given inherent limitations of claims data to analyze injury and death within an occupation, a dedicated national firefighter injury surveillance model is needed to support timely and responsive prevention and intervention, as well as specific research. The results of this study suggest that cancer, injury and mental health should be priority issues for researchers, employers and policy-makers working to improve firefighter health and safety.

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