The risk of injury and death is present each time a firefighter takes to the front lines. The risks vary greatly, depending on the type of work firefighters are engaged in. Many of the hazards that they come across can be minimized with proper training, supplies and protocol.
Unfortunately, there are some situations in which even the most careful firefighter might be involved in an accident or find out that he or she suffered an injury. These cases can lead to the inability to work and earn a paycheck. Workers' compensation claims can sometimes result.
Not all issues are related to fires
There are many cases in which firefighters face hazards that don't have anything to do with fires. Sometimes they are the first people on the scene when someone is injured, such as motor vehicle accidents. This puts firefighters at risk of coming into contact with blood from the injured party. Diseases, such as hepatitis, HIV and others can all be transmitted through blood contact. Anyone who is pricked by a needle or who has come into ungloved or unprotected contact with another person's bodily fluids will often need medical monitoring, especially if the health status of the patient is unknown.
Exposure to carcinogens
Fires can contain carcinogenic substances, which can cause cancer. Firefighters have an increased risk of various types of cancer, including that of the brain, colon, kidney and bladder. Hodgkin's lymphoma is also possible. Limiting exposure to the smoke and byproducts of the fire might help to prevent these, but the risk remains.
The breathing apparatuses that firefighters use can minimize the risk of smoke inhalation. Still, there is a risk of breathing in smoke while they are getting ready to go into the structure or fight the fire. This isn't necessarily going to impact their health in the short-term. However, long-term exposure could lead to respiratory problems that require medical care. Permanent lung damage and chronic respiratory conditions are possible.
Risk of injuries
Buildings can collapse and other issues can occur that might lead to injuries. Obstacles in a structure can be obscured by smoke, which can lead to trips and falls. Even though firefighters have on protective gear, accidents are still possible. Prompt treatment sometimes isn't possible because of hazards in the area.
Injured firefighters must be sure that they get the care they need. The desire to care for others first might have to be put by the wayside. When they have to miss work due to an injury, these brave men and women may qualify for specific benefits.