Firefighters across the country put their lives on the line every day. Their job tends to be glamorized in film and television – men in suits standing upright beneath wooden beams ablaze with yellow flames, a puff of black smoke, the occasional coughing. In reality, firefighters wear approximately 100 pounds of equipment on their bodies, and they usually have little to no visibility. The best way for firefighters to investigate a building is on their hands and knees because the closer to the floor they are, the better the visibility is.
The Real Causes of Firefighter Fatalities
It is always tragic and unsettling when those who save lives lose their own in the line of duty. Although you may think most firefighters are killed by smoke inhalation or burns, this is not the case. Instead, firefighters are are usually injured by accidents in the line of duty or stress on the body and mind.
In 2013, the most common fatalities of firefighters were caused by:
- Overexertion/Stress/Medical. Most commonly, firefighters suffer heart attacks, though some suffer strokes as well.
- Rapid fire progression/explosion. Approximately 31% of deaths are inside a building or structure when it explodes.
- Crashes. Firefighters may be involved in an accident while driving a vehicle or riding as a passenger.
- Being struck by an object. Falling objects are a common concern for firefighters, as they can cause further damage to the building's already unsound structure or cause direct harm or death to a person inside.
- Structural collapses. Firefighters constantly put themselves directly in harm's way when they enter buildings to investigate fires or try to evacuate occupants. Unfortunately, a few are often inside a building when it gives way.
- Falls. Falls can often be contributed to structural collapse; many are due to floors collapsing beneath the firefighter's feet. Perhaps more commonly, the precarious situation of balancing on the rooves of buildings cause some to slip.
- Exposure to electricity. Though not quite as common as heart attacks or falls, firefighters often handle electrical wires in emergency situations.
Compensation For Firefighters Injured on the Job
If you or someone you know has been directly effected by the accidental death of a firefighter in the line of duty, you may be entitled to certain benefits, such as coverage for medical and funeral expenses, and compensation for grief and suffering. Whether a volunteer firefighter or otherwise, it is essential that you speak with your local New Jersey workers' compensation attorney immediately.
A firefighter in his own community, Manfred F. Ricciardelli, Jr. has over 20 years of workers' compensation law experience. With his knowledge and passion for helping emergency services workers and their families, Mr. Ricciardelli will help you prepare your case to get you the benefits that you deserve. Contact us today to set up an appointment for your free consultation by filling out our online contact form or calling us at (973) 285-1100.