196883 Why Don't Firefighters Wear Seat Belts? What's the Rush?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Richard Blohm, BA , National Labor College, International Association of Fire Fighters, Silver Spring, MD
Firefighters in the line of duty die from many causes. One, which is avoidable, is seat belt non-compliance. On average 100 firefighters die each year and 25% are attributed to motor vehicle accidents. Of that figure are firefighters being ejected from either a fire apparatus or their personally-owned vehicles while responding an emergency.

Eight-five respondents in a northeastern, urban, career fire department answered a twenty-four-question survey, which was the capstone of the research. Over 75% of the respondents wear seat belts 25% of the time or less, when responding to an emergency. Almost 2/3 of the respondents believe they have more important things to do than buckle their seat belts. Almost 40% of these emergency responders do not believe that a lack of seat belt compliance causes firefighter fatalities. One of the over-arching factors is that 95% of the respondents believe that every second counts in responding to an emergency scene. Forty percent of them indicated their immediate supervisor never enforces seat belt compliance and 25% of the respondents strongly disagreed that there employer even had a seat belt requirement.

The fire service needs to change regarding seat belt compliance and develop a training curriculum for firefighters. This curriculum should be crafted to insure that seat belt compliance becomes second nature to every firefighter. On an organizational level there needs to be a strict enforcement of a seat belt compliance policy when put in place.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the research work of students at the National Labor College in the field of occupational safety and health Assess ways that activist research can improve the safety and health of workers Discuss strategies for combining academic research and activist work in occupational safety and health

Keywords: Occupational Safety, Occupational Injury and Death

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am chair occupational safety and health in New Jersey for the International Association of Fire Fighters. This was the topic of my senior thesis at the National Labor College.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.