The U.S. Fire Administration Releases Latest Firefighter Fatality Report

Aug. 11, 2008
The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has released the report, Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2007, indicating the causes for the 118 on-duty firefighter fatalities in 2007.

The report, which can be found at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/statistics/report.shtm, continues a series of annual studies by the USFA of on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States. The USFA is the single public agency source of information for all on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States each year.

“One of the greatest challenges we face as a fire service is to stop the needless deaths of firefighters while in service to their communities,” United States Fire Administrator Greg Cade said. “Every day and across this nation, firefighters are responding to emergencies that threaten the lives of their residents. These same threats also threaten the lives of firefighters. Unfortunately, we all lost far too many firefighters in 2007.”

For the past 22 years, the USFA has tracked all firefighter fatalities and conducted the necessary analysis for the benefit of the fire service. Through the collection of information on the causes of firefighter deaths, the USFA is able to focus on specific problems and direct future efforts towards finding solutions to reduce the number of firefighter fatalities in the future. This information also is used by many organizations to measure the effectiveness of their current efforts directed toward firefighter health and safety.

The unique and specific objective of Firefighter Fatalities in the United States is to identify all on-duty firefighter fatalities that occurred in the United States and its protectorates, and to present in summary narrative form the circumstances surrounding each occurrence. In addition to the 2007 overall findings, this study includes information on the hazards to firefighters presented by the lack of seatbelt use. In 2007, 27 firefighter fatalities resulted from vehicle-related incidents. In 19 of the 27 incidents where seatbelt status was known, 11 firefighters were confirmed as not wearing seatbelts at the time of the event. Other statistics from the overview of the 118 firefighters that died while on duty in 2007 include:

68 volunteer firefighters and 50 career firefighters died while on duty.

There were 7 firefighter fatality incidents where 2 or more firefighters were killed, claiming a total of 21 firefighters' lives.

11 firefighters were killed during activities involving brush, grass or wildland firefighting, the lowest in over a decade.

Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 76 firefighters.

38 firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.

26 firefighters died while responding to or returning from emergency incidents.

11 firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities.

15 firefighters died after the conclusion of their on-duty activity.

Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death for 2007, with 52 firefighter deaths.

The National Fallen Firefighter Foundation (http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/goodbye.jsp?url=http://www.firehero.org) maintains the list of firefighters who die in the line-of-duty and are honored during the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend held each October in Emmitsburg, Md.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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