Fire Truck Accidents Among Leading Causes of Deaths Among Firefighters, EMTsNovember 16, 2015
A study from the National Fire Protection Association found that fire truck accidents were responsible for one-fifth of the deaths of firefighters in the line of duty. The data found that nearly 200 of the 829 firefighter deaths in the last ten years could be attributed to fire truck accidents. Fire truck accidents were responsible for more firefighter deaths than smoke inhalation, burns or structural collapses. The only cause of death found to take more lives was heart attacks due to overexertion.
Fire Truck Accidents “A Nationwide Problem”
University of Maryland engineering professor Vincent Brannigan called fire truck accidents “a nationwide problem.” A recent report in the Washington Post examined several fire truck accidents. The report found data on nearly 250 accidents in one Maryland county alone. In about half of those accidents, investigators placed the blame on the fire department personnel. The data include reports of fatal fire truck accidents in Texas and New York State, as well as injury accidents in Florida and Maryland.
Causes of Fire Truck Accidents
Some experts have blamed the attitudes and behavior of firefighters for the high number of fire truck accidents. The Post report also examined some of the potential causes of fire truck accidents. Professor Brannigan cited the tendency of fire truck and ambulance drivers to “go like hell” in an emergency. A 2013 study by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine cited the “dangerously low” rate of seat belt use by firefighters.
Injuries from Fire Truck Accidents
The size, speed and weight of emergency vehicles can lead to serious injuries in a fire truck accident. Last September, a paramedic in Burnet, Texas, died when his ambulance collided a stopped 18-wheeler. The following week, a New York State firefighter lost his life when an ambulance struck a backhoe. Civilians are also frequently among the victims of fire truck accidents. This past Halloween, four civilians and four firefighters were injured in a fire truck accident in Maryland.
Costs of Fire Truck Accidents
The expenses involved in fire truck accidents can lead to diminished response times, vehicles out of service, and lawsuits against fire departments and municipalities. In nearly half of all fire truck accident investigations concluded this year, the investigators found the fire department staffers to be at fault. These accidents lead to higher insurance rates for fire departments, which lead to higher taxes for local residents. Many departments have issued policy memos calling for drivers to exercise caution, but these drivers must balance these concerns with the rapid response times required in emergencies.
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican
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NOTE: This blog post is a news story and does not constitute and endorsement of the Amaro Law Firm by any parties mentioned herein.