As a career firefighter, you know how difficult it is to maneuver an emergency vehicle through heavy traffic. Incredibly, some drivers fail to see a two-ton fire engine with sirens blaring coming up behind them on the I-80 and Littleton Road Interchange—and some even merge right into the fire truck’s path.

It may surprise you to know that motor vehicle accidents are the second-most common cause of death for on-duty firefighters. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), motor vehicle crashes account for up to 25 percent of all line-of-duty fatalities, second only to injuries sustained during fire and rescue. The reason the motor vehicle fatality rate is so high is a particular problem among firefighters: they are less likely to be wearing seat belts while traveling to and from an emergency situation.

Firefighters Often Ejected During NJ Rollover Crashes

A recent report from USFA outlines the reasons firefighters are susceptible to fatal crash injuries on the job:

  • Rollover crashes. Fire engines are top-heavy vehicles, and are more likely to roll over when struck by another vehicle. The likelihood of fatal injury increases significantly in a rollover crash, with nearly half of all rollover injuries proving deadly for the firefighter.
  • Seat belt use. Data compiled by USFA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that many firefighters do not buckle their seat belts while traveling in a fire apparatus. While there are safety guidelines that mandate seat belt use, many firefighters say that the seat belts are not big enough to accommodate them when they are wearing their full turnout gear, or that speed dictates they complete preparations and dressing on route to the scene and that wearing a belt while dressing is impractical or physically impossible.
  • Struck at the scene. Many firefighters have been struck by cars as they fight fires near heavily traveled roadways, especially if they are performing a nighttime rescue or are volunteer respondents who were unable to change into a reflective uniform before attending the scene.

Firefighters perform valuable and heroic services to the community, and they should not have to fend for themselves after they have been injured on the job. If you were seriously hurt in an accident while on your way to or from an emergency situation, you can get compensation for your medical bills and loss of income. Click the contact link on this page to find out how we can help, or get more information on your case in our FREE book, What the Injured Worker Needs to Know: Your Workers’ Comp Guide.

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer