February 4, 2013

Firefighter Is Not a Dangerous Job

Did you read that title correctly?   Yes you did.  I said that firefighter is NOT a dangerous job.   Bear with me folks as I know this is contrary to what we all know.

You see the rate of fatalities on the job in various professions is measured every year.    We can get the 2011 data from the BLS.  Turns out that lately firefighters have a work related fatality rate at 2.5 per 100,000 that is lower than the national average  of 3.5.   That means that firefighters are less likely to die at work than average.  Firefighting is safer than the average job.   In fact if you look at that list you'll see that janitors have a fatality rate of 2.4.   In effect, firefighting is only marginally less safe than being a janitor.

Now if you're thinking to yourself "oh that can't be right, everyone knows firefighting is dangerous" then heres a few things to keep in mind.   First its my understanding that at least locally firefighters are now taught to NOT go into burning buildings.  This is contrary from the past or at least what we see on TV where they may have entered burning buildings for whatever reason.   Second the modern building codes make for safer buildings in general and less fires as a result.   Combine these two things and you get fewer fires and firefighters taking fewer risks.   Lastly I would also assume that modern technology has helped protect firefighters from the dangers on the job.

If you or someone you know is a firefighter then you may be thinking of how dangerous the job actually is and know of people who have died on the job.   I have no doubt that firefighting is dangerous and that firefighters tragically do die on the job.   I'm not doubting that.   But in terms of total fatalities on the job and the rate of such fatalities the statistics prove that is is not as dangerous as many other professions.   There are a lot of reasons people die on the job and most of them are nothing that would fetch any newspaper headlines.   Mundane things like auto accidents and falling off ladders are among the highest cause of job related fatalities.  Taxi drivers are a lot more likely to die on the job than most primarily due to traffic accidents and construction workers are over 5 times more likely to have fatalities as firefighters.  I think it should make everyone happy to know the occupation of firefighter isn't as dangerous as it was in the past.


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