Even though firefighters wear helmets, a blow to the head from a falling beam in a burning building, for example, could cause a TBI. Symptoms include impaired balance and coordination, slurred speech, trouble with memory or concentration, and seizures. 

Internal organ damage.

Firefighters often suffer damage to the spleen, kidneys, liver, or bowel, as well as punctured lungs due to broken ribs. 

Lung cancer.

Despite their protective equipment, firefighters are at risk of repeated smoke inhalation, which can cause cancer.


Firefighters can be seriously cut by sharp objects in a burning building or in vehicle accidents on the way to or from a fire or a hospital.


Carrying victims to safety, wrangling heavy firehoses, and lifting objects that impede entrance to or exit from a burning building can cause hernias, slipped discs, and strains or sprains of muscles and ligaments.

In many cases, firefighters’ injuries can lead to long-term or permanent disability, but the symptoms of even the most serious injuries might not be apparent right after an accident. The adrenaline that the body produces in reaction to the stress of fighting a fire can mask symptoms for hours or days after a fire run. You could be seriously hurt without even realizing that you are.

For this reason, it’s important to report even a minor firefighting injury to your supervisor and file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC) as soon as possible. Seek medical attention from the doctor recommended by your employer’s insurer, not from your own doctor. A medical exam, along with diagnostic tests, will document the injuries you’ve suffered, giving you the evidence you need for your workers’ comp claim. If your injuries are serious, your medical bills are high, or your employer disputes your claim, you’re well-advised to consult an attorney to help you seek workers' compensation benefits.

Workers’ Comp for Psychological Conditions

Firefighters are exposed not only to physical danger; they also run the risk of psychological and emotional injury as a result of what they repeatedly witness on the job: serious injuries to others, including co-workers, pain, death, disfigurement, and loss of property and possessions, as well as the grief of bereaved family members and friends of deceased fire victims. Regular exposure to the tragedies caused by fires can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other psychological issues. Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Detachment from reality
  • Substance abuse

Although PTSD can develop over time from repeated exposure to emotional trauma, workers’ comp has historically not covered any psychological injury unless it’s connected to a specific, work-related physical injury. This means many workers with legitimate, work-related psychological issues have not received benefits to cover counseling and similar treatment. In 2021, a bill to address this issue was introduced in the South Carolina legislature, but it has not yet been passed. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Assistance Program, however, has set aside funds for mental health treatment of firefighters with PTSD diagnoses. The complicated landscape surrounding firefighters’ work-related psychological injuries is one more reason to consult a workers’ comp lawyer if you have such a claim.

Have You Been Injured On The Job?

If you've been hurt at your job you can speak with a workers' compensation lawyer. Please contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our ConwayMyrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. PleasantNorth Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.

Dirk J. Derrick
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South Carolina Lawyer Dirk Derrick helps victims recover from car accidents, personal injury & wrongful death.