Fire fighter fatality investigation and prevention program Findings from a national evaluation

By Karen Peterson, Michael Witt, Katherine Morton, Murrey Olmsted, HE Amandus, SL Proudfoot, JT Wassell

Firefighters are called on to rescue people and protect property under serious and hazardous conditions. Some 100 firefighters die each year on duty, and another 95,000 are injured. Recommendations developed through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program (FFFIPP) point to many safety practices that could improve the health and safety of the nation’s firefighters.

The purpose of this report is to summarize the findings of a recent evaluation of the FFFIPP. Based on a national survey of fire departments and focus groups with frontline firefighters, the evaluation focused on firefighters’ awareness of FFFIPP recommendations, the extent to which recommendations are being implemented, the factors affecting implementation, and NIOSH’s dissemination practices.

We learned that most fire departments are aware of the FFFIPP and follow its recommendations; nevertheless, various shortfalls, especially regarding cardiovascular health, motor vehicle safety, and procedures on the fireground, persist. The greatest shortfalls exist in small and volunteer fire departments where resources limit the ability to purchase needed equipment and prepare firefighters to carry out their duties safely. We identified numerous specific improvements that NIOSH could make to promote health and safety.


Peterson, K., Witt, M., Morton, K., Olmsted, M., Amandus, HE., Proudfoot, SL., & Wassell, JT. (2010). Fire fighter fatality investigation and prevention program: Findings from a national evaluation. (RTI Press Publication No. RR-0007-1003). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Karen PetersonK. Kristina Peterson, PhD, is a senior research director at RTI specializing in workplace safety and health.

Michael WittAt the time of writing, Michael B. Witt, MA, was a senior survey research statistician at RTI.

Katherine MortonKatherine B. Morton, MS, is a research statistician at RTI, specializing in the design and analysis of sample surveys.

Murrey OlmstedMurrey G. Olmsted, PhD, is a methodologist and research psychologist at RTI. He specializes in research design and survey methodology and works primarily in content areas such as behavioral health, healthcare, mental health, and military personnel.

HE AmandusHarlan E. Amandus, PhD, serves as Chief, Analysis and Field Evaluations Branch, Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. This branch is responsible for evaluation of injury interventions to reduce risk of occupational injuries.

SL ProudfootSteven L. Proudfoot, BA, is a survey statistician at the National Science Foundation and, formerly, at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

JT WassellJames T. Wassell, PhD, is a research mathematical statistician with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. His publications include work in statistical methodology, occupational injury, back injury, and risk assessment.

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