Public Safety Medical leads the fight in improving the health and safety of public safety personnel alongside our research partners.

Key Statistics


  • The average age of a civilian heart attack is 66. The average age of a firefighter heart attack is 49.
    (Source: National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 2005)
  • Firefighters are 6.5 times more likely to die of cardiac-related chronic disease than the US population.
    (Source: Public Safety Medical / Bowen Research Center 2006)
  • 1,440 non-fatal line-of-duty heart attacks occurred in 2010.
    (Source: National Fire Protection Association 2011)
  • A firefighter’s risk of heart attack increases by up to 100 times at a working fire, even when performing less strenuous tasks.
    (Source: New England Journal of Medicine 2007)
  • Studies have shown that in rescue operations, firefighters operate at 100% of their predicted heart rate maximum for up to 20 to 40 minutes.
    (Source: Indiana University 2007)


  • Overuse injuries (back, shoulder, and knee) are the most common types of fireground injuries, making up 2% of all duty-related injuries.
    (Source: United States Fire Administration 2006)
  • 50% of early retirements are due to overuse injuries.
    (Source: International Association of Fire Fighters 2000)
  • One in every three firefighters gets injured each year.
    (Source: International Association of Fire Fighters 2000)


  • Firefighters are twice as likely to develop testicular cancer.
    Source: University of Cincinnati 2006

Active Areas of Research

Harvard School of Public Health

  1. FEMA 2012-2015 (in process)
    Non-invasive imaging to determine prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and cardiomegaly among firefighters along with quantifying major risk factors for LVH/cardiomegaly. Developing a prediction model and screening protocols.
  2. FEMA 2009-2013 (in process)
    Cardiorespiratory fitness levels as a predictor of firefighters health and safety.Other areas of study and interest:

    1. Obstructive sleep apnea
    2. Cardiovascular disease in law enforcement

Indiana University School of Medicine – Bowen Research Center

  1. Mortality in the Fire Service-Indianapolis Fire Department
    1970-2006 (published)
  2. Mortality in the Fire Service – State of Indiana
    1970-2010 (in process)
  3. Mortality in Law Enforcement – State of Indiana
    1970-2010 (in process)
  4. Wellness-Fitness Initiative Impact upon a Cohort of Indianapolis Fire Department Firefighters
    2000-2008 (in submission)
  5. Impact of a Health and Wellness Program on Health Risk Factors in the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
    2008-2010 (in submission)
  6. Cardiovascular Disease and Coronary Calcium Scoring in At-Risk Indianapolis Firefighters
    2011-2012 (in process)Other areas of study interest:

    1. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder in Public Safety Populations
    2. Work Performance Evaluation and Testing

University of Maryland

  1. FEMA 2003-2005 (Published)
    Development of a National Standardized Minimum Medical Dataset for the Fire Service
  2. FEMA 2013-2015 (in submission)
    Enhancing the National Fire Service Health, Wellness, and Fitness Web-Based Data Collection System

Oregon Health & Science University

  1. Cost Justification of the Fire Service Wellness-Fitness Initiative 1991-2004 (Published)

Novartis Pharmaceuticals

  1. Blood Pressure in Firefighters 2009-2010 (Published)

For more information on Public Safety Medical’s Institute for Public Safety Health, click here

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