Monday, October 4, 2010

Fallen Firefighters Honored on Sunday, October 3, 2010 with Half-Staff Flags

Yesterday, October 3, 2010, State and U.S. flags flew at half-staff at all public buildings in Minnesota in honor of firefighters who were killed or disabled in the line of duty.

A 2001 federal law memorializes fallen firefighters, and this day is celebrated on the first Sunday of October each year in Minnesota.

On average, 100 firefighters are killed in the line of duty in the United States each year. Since 1881, 187 Minnesota firefighters have been killed in the line of duty.On Sunday, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Services was held in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Common firefighter injuries include:

Sprains or strains
Injuries from falling objects
Cuts and lacerations
Thermal burns
Exhaustion or fatigue
Smoke Inhalation
Puncture wounds
Heart attacks or cardiac symptoms
Eye Trauma
Dizziness or fainting
Electric shock
Crush injuries
Slip and falls and trip and falls
Falls from heights
Traffic accidents

According to the CDC, the most common cause of firefighter fatalities is sudden cardiac death. The report notes that coronary artery disease in fire fighters is due to a combination of personal and workplace factors. The personal factors are well known: age, gender, family history, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, smoking, high blood cholesterol, obesity, and lack of exercise. Not as widely known, however, is that fire fighters have exposures to workplace factors that are associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes such as exposure to fire smoke (notably carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and particulates), heat stress, noise, and shift work.

The Minnesota legislature recognizes the increased risk of heart conditions for firefighters. Minn.Stat. §176.011, Subd. 15(b) provides a statutory presumption of work-relatedness for firefighters who suffer heart attacks. This means that when an active duty firefighter suffers myocarditis, coronary sclerosis, or pneumonia, those diseases are presumed to be occupational diseases, so long as a pre-employment physical did not indicate any presence of those types of diseases.

In addition to Minnesota workers’ compensation benefits, Minnesota firefighters injured in the line of duty may also be entitled to PERA Duty Disability benefits. Families of firefighters killed in the line of duty may be entitled to Minnesota workers’ compensation death and dependency benefits, in addition to other PERA death and dependency benefits.

For a free, no-obligation consultation to learn about your Minnesota workers’ compensation rights and your entitlement to PERA duty disability benefits, call Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.
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