|Every year nearly 100 firefighters die on the job and one half of those deaths are from fatal heart attacks. These statistics remain consistent year in and out. The very nature of the job automatically puts them at a higher risk.|
“Being a firefighter, you never know when the bell is gonna ring, when the alarm is gonna sound. We basically go from 0 to 100 like that,” said Rich Mikutsky, vice president of the Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA).
Doctors say it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why firefighters have some of the highest rates. But those in the business have a few ideas.
“There’s the obvious weight of our equipment, our tools, our Scott Pack, but then there’s the other part of it where we start and stop quickly, ya know, at anytime at night when we could be at full rest we may have to get up and be at full speed,” said Paterson firefighter Kyle Hughes.
Extended exposure to traumatic stress, both mentally and physically, boosts inflammation in the body, increasing the risk. Continuous disruptions to the sleep-wake cycle can lead to lower metabolic rates linked directly to heart failure.
“Yesterday we had a big fire in Clifton. It started around 1 p.m. and we had a number of guys that suffered heat exhaustion, smoke inhalation, had to be taken to the hospital and fortunately everyone was all right but I saw a couple of them last night around 8 o’clock and they were exhausted....