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Fitness programs to reduce firefighter fatality rates

This is an excerpt from Hard Work by Brian J. Sharkey & Paul O. Davis.

The latest findings in the ongoing study of American firefighter fatalities, reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (April 28, 2006), from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire), were that sudden cardiac death remains the leading cause of death in the line of duty. Half of all deaths for volunteer firefighters were cardiac related, and 39 percent of deaths for career firefighters were from heart attacks. As in past years, the deaths were attributed to stress and overexertion. According to Dr. Ridenour, epidemiologist with the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “The leading cause of death is sudden cardiac death, and we can reduce these risks by having fitness programs and annual physicals. Fire departments should consider mandatory annual fitness exams for firefighters.”