Descriptive analysis of injuries and illnesses self-reported by wildland firefighters

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Wildland firefighters working in remote environments with steep terrain, uneven ground, variable temperatures and fluctuating elevations cultivate injury risk. The purpose of this study was to understand types of injuries and illnesses wildland firefighters (WLFFs) sustain during the fire season. This study was a web-based cross-sectional questionnaire titled Injury surveillance of wildland firefighters. A total of 284 WLFFs responded to the questionnaire, but were not required to answer every question. Quantitative data from the questionnaire were analysed to determine WLFF demographics, types of injuries and illnesses sustained, and the potential influence environmental factors have on injuries sustained. Most WLFFs sustained at least one injury or illness in the past five fire seasons with a majority of those injuries and illnesses occurring on the fireline on rocky mountainside terrain. Nearly half of the 453 injuries and illnesses reported were sprains and strains occurring to the lower back, knee and ankle. Twenty percent of WLFFs reporting injuries felt that their injury or illness was preventable. With most injuries and illnesses occurring on the fireline, the development of a more targeted, job-specific injury and illness prevention program that focuses on the lower extremities is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-419
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019


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