Fitness as It Relates to Firefighter Injuries

Take a minute to review the two abstracts below.

Body mass index as a predictor of firefighter injury and workers’ compensation claims.

Kuehl KS1, Kisbu-Sakarya Y, Elliot DL, Moe EL, Defrancesco CA, Mackinnon DP, Lockhart G, Goldberg L, Kuehl HE.




To determine the relationship between lifestyle variables including body mass index and filing a workers’ compensation claim due to firefighter injury.


A cross-sectional evaluation of firefighter injury related to workers” compensation claims occurring 5 years after the original Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Alternative Models’ Effects study intervention.


A logistic regression analysis for variables predicting filing a workers’ compensation claim due to an injury was performed with a total of 433 participants. The odds of filing a compensation claim were almost 3 times higher for firefighters with a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m than firefighters with a normal body mass index (odds ratio, 2.89; P < 0.05).


This study addresses a high-priority area of reducing firefighter injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Maintaining a healthy body weight is important to reduce injury and workers’ compensation claims among firefighters.

Evaluation of a fitness intervention for new firefighters: injury reduction and economic benefits.

Griffin SC1, Regan TL2, Harber P1, Lutz EA1, Hu C3, Peate WF1, Burgess JL1.



Firefighting is a hazardous profession and firefighters suffer workplace injury at a higher rate than most US workers. Decreased physical fitness is associated with injury in firefighters. A physical fitness intervention was implemented among Tucson Fire Department recruit firefighters with the goals of decreasing injury and compensation claims frequency and costs during the recruit academy, and over the subsequent probationary year.


Department injury records were analyzed and described by body part, injury type and mechanism of injury. Injury and workers’ compensation claims outcomes from the recruit academy initiation through the 12-month probationary period for the intervention recruit class were compared with controls from three historical classes.


The majority of injuries were sprains and strains (65.4 percent), the most common mechanism of injury was acute overexertion (67.9 percent) and the lower extremity was the most commonly affected body region (61.7 percent). The intervention class experienced significantly fewer injuries overall and during the probationary year (p=0.009), filed fewer claims (p=0.028) and experienced claims cost savings of approximately $33,000 (2013) from avoided injury and reduced claims costs. The estimated costs for program implementation were $32,192 leading to a one-year return on investment of 2.4 percent.


We observed reductions in injury occurrence and compensation costs among Probationary Firefighter Fitness (PFF-Fit) program participants compared with historical controls. The initiation of the PFF-Fit program has demonstrated promise in reducing injury and claims costs; however, continued research is needed to better understand the program’s potential effectiveness with additional recruit classes and carryover effects into the recruit’s career injury potential.

After reading these, if you agree this is important then take a moment to answer these questions.

  1. Have you started a fitness program in your department? Yes or No (If yes, how long has and is it mandatory?  If No, what are the obstacles to starting one?)
  2. Do you have a designated workout area? (If yes, what equipment do you currently have?)
  3. Does it include cardio and strength exercises?(please give specifics?)
  4. Does it include functional training specific to the job tasks required? (please give examples)
  5. Does it include a nutritional component? (If yes, are you using a nutritionist?)
Email your responses back to me at I will publish the results in a future issue.If you want to determine how you can improve your fitness and implement a program at your department contact

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