For many firefighters, getting to the call is the dangerous part

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Firefighting is a dangerous occupation, but for many, the most dangerous part of the job is going to and from an emergency call.

Accidents are the second-biggest killer of firefighters, accounting for 20 percent of all deaths over the past decade nationwide, according to the National Fire Protection Association — more than smoke, flames or building collapses and trailing only heart attacks from overexertion.

Locally, it’s a big concern for Montgomery County officials. County fire trucks and ambulances last year were involved in accidents at a rate of 21.4 accidents per 10,000 calls, according to The Washington Post.  In neighboring Prince George’s County, there were only 12.6 accidents per 10,000 involving fire and rescue equipment.

None of these accidents was fatal.

Experts say there are several reasons for these accidents.  Some include risky driving practices, a culture that values speeding to the scene and very low seat belt use.

But Montgomery County fire union officials tell The Post that firefighters do use caution when going out to calls.

Department officials, including Fire Chief Steve Goldstein, say they are addressing the high number of collisions by revamping accident investigations and driver training, as well as mandating seat belt use.

Firefighters say there would be fewer crashes if more drivers would clear the roadway when they see or hear emergency equipment coming.

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