The number of injuries sustained by firefighters nationwide last year declined more than 5 percent. But the highest incidence of firefighter injury can still be found in the northeast.  

(perfoto, ThinkStock)

The report comes from the National Fire Protection Association.  The leading causes of firefighter injuries last year were strains, sprains and slip and fall mishaps. They accounted for a total of 55.3 percent of injuries. Ken Willette, director of the NFPA's Public Fire Protection Division said "firefighting is a full-contact sport."

"The trend is going in the right direction and we hope that it continues for the next couple of years," Willette said of the reduction in injuries.

The NFPA's report found cuts, bleeding and wounds were the second most prevalent class of injuries - about 13.8 percent last year.  Smoke and gas inhalation caused 5 percent of the injuries to firefighters.

The northeast had the highest fireground injury rate: one injury per 100 fires. Willette said this is partly because "the northeast has greater population and building density."

The NFPA report also notes that the number of burns incurred while firefighting is just over 5 percent, and that low rate is encouraging, when you consider the fact that firefighters are constantly in contact with out-of-control flames.

When everything was added up, there were a total of 65,000 firefighter injuries in the line of duty in the United States in 2013.  Other various mishaps and injuries included 7,100 exposures to infectious disease and 17,400 exposures to hazardous conditions.

The National Fire Protection Association is based in the Boston area.   t is a nonprofit founded in 1896 to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by advancing fire codes and safety standards.