NIOSH Research Supports Firefighter Safety

Over the last several years, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has collaborated with the firefighter community, firefighter apparatus manufacturers, and the NFPA standards committee to conduct a national survey of firefighter body measurements, or anthropometry. The data collected provides the first U.S. national firefighter anthropometric information for fire apparatus and fire personal protective equipment (PPE).

The data can aid manufacturers in keeping firefighters safe in the line of duty by improving the design of firefighter apparatus and PPE. Key points from the data include:

  • Firefighters have different body sizes than the U.S. population: On average, male firefighters were taller and had larger upper-body builds than the general U.S. population.
  • Fire apparatus design changes can improve safety: Data shows that firefighters in turnout gear do not fit well in today’s fire apparatus, which has implications for safety.
  • PPE fit can compromise performance: About 1 in 4 men and 1 in 2 women reported problems with the fit or bulkiness of structural firefighting gloves.

Practical applications of the findings can help improve equipment design. This story highlights the impact of the research in the firefighter community.