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Safety climate, safety behaviors and line-of-duty injuries in the fire service

Todd D. Smith (College of Aeronautics, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide, Daytona Beach, USA)
David M. DeJoy (Workplace Health Group, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, USA)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 4 March 2014




The purpose of this paper is to test an initial model of safety climate for firefighting. Relationships between safety climate, safety behaviors and firefighter injuries were examined.


Data were collected from 398 professional firefighters in the southeastern USA. Structural equation modeling, using a zero-inflated Poisson regression method, was used to complete the analyses.


Safety climate, as a higher order factor, was comprised of four factors including management commitment to safety, supervisor support for safety, safety programs/policies and safety communication. Both safety compliance behaviors and safety participation behaviors were significantly, positively associated with safety climate. Both behaviors were deemed protective and were associated with reductions in injury. Safety climate relations to injury were interesting, but somewhat ambiguous. Safety climate significantly predicted membership in the “always zero” injury group. For those not in the “always zero” group, the relationship between safety climate and injury was positive, which was not completely surprising as direct relationships between safety climate and injury have been insignificant and opposite to predictions in studies using retrospective data and may be attributed to reverse causation.


This novel study illustrates the importance of both organizational and work unit factors in helping shape safety climate perceptions among firefighters. The results also support the safety climate – behavior – injury model and show that a positive safety climate encourages safer behaviors among firefighters. Lastly, the findings confirm that both safety compliance behaviors and safety participation behaviors are important to reducing individual firefighter injury experience.



D. Smith, T. and M. DeJoy, D. (2014), "Safety climate, safety behaviors and line-of-duty injuries in the fire service", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 49-64.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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