Appalachian Firefighters Exposure to and Perception of Risk

Numerous articles have identified the known and recognizable health and safety issues that paid professional firefighters encounter when responding to a fire, however, there has not been a robust survey focused solely on volunteer firefighters and what they perceive and recognize as risks and hazards to their own safety and health. There is also scant reporting of “near miss” incidents where the firefighter narrowly escapes injury during a fire. In Kentucky all 54 counties served by the Central Appalachian Educational Research Center region have primarily volunteer fire services with only 10 departments listed as paid professional services. There are 8,845 volunteer firefighters in total working in 324 fire services in these counties. The Kentucky Firefighter Information & Experience Inventory was sent to the chiefs of all of those 324 fire services for distribution to all volunteer firefighters in February through May 2014. Over fourteen hundred volunteer firefighters (1,413) responded to the 35-item survey, modified from one used in a recently completed dissertation by researcher Goetz (2013).