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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Drexel: Peers, Public Perception Influence Firefighters against Safety Equipment

Analysis by a team from Drexel University found that firefighters may shun safety gear due to the pressure of living up to their risk-taker image. Dr. Jennifer Taylor, associate professor in Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health, and her team used data from 123 firefighters interviews across the country to determine why they often refrain from using personal protective equipment (PPE) in dangerous situations. Their work was featured in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

What the researchers found through their interviews was that many firefighters feel pressured against using the proper safety gear by older, more experienced co-workers, as well as the public image of a firefighter as a daredevil. Dr. Taylor and her team believe more emphasis by firehouse administration must be placed on creating a culture of safety — which starts with the use of personal protective equipment.

To assist with that, the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) and the Firefighter Injury Research and Safety Trends (FIRST) organization, which Dr. Taylor heads, received a $1.5 million grant funded by FEMA for training 100 safety officers to make them champions of safety in their firehouses across the country. Additionally, the grant will fund new surveys of approximately 500 fire departments to better understand barriers to safety culture.

Drexel press release: