Performance Improvement 2008. How Improve Outcomes of Safety Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behavior-Influence of a Fire-Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program?


The program had a low profile within the fire service. Most officers were familiar with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and most had seen and read an investigation and prevention report. However, over half were not familiar with the investigation and prevention program itself, particularly with the process of identifying incidents to investigate, conducting the investigation, and reporting findings. The majority of fire departments in the country require firefighters to be trained on five of the six types of recommendations addressed in this evaluation: use of personal protective equipment, fighting structure fires, driving safety, use of radio communication devices, the Incident Command System, and maintenance of self-contained breathing apparatus. Only seven percent of the fire departments have a required physical fitness training program, and most fire departments do not require firefighters to be screened for cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular disease. About a third of all fire departments say they are sometimes unable to establish rapid intervention teams because there are not enough firefighters at the scene of the fire. Firefighters said that learning about specific incidents helped develop safer work practices, and they appreciated that the line of duty death reports were unbiased. Only half of officers agreed that NIOSH reports were practical, easy to understand, specific, and concrete. Officers suggested that the recommendations be made stronger, more straightforward, and less generic, and that they take into consideration the size and resources of the department.

There were several key implications from the evaluation: small, volunteer departments have the greatest challenges to following safety guidelines; existing resources limit safety practices; gaps in knowledge and attitudes also limit safety; investigations and line of duty death reports provide useful information; fire departments need additional information in the line of duty death reports; firefighters and fire departments need information presented in additional formats; materials need to be better marketed and distributed; and increasing awareness would likely improve safety practices.

Report Title: Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program Evaluation
Agency Sponsor:
CDC, Centers for Disease Control
Federal Contact: Tim Pizatella, 304-285-5894
Research Triangle Institute

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