Heart attacks, vehicle accidents leading cause of firefighter deaths in 2007

August 13th, 2008 by Julie Ferguson

In a recently issued study entitled On-Duty Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2007 (3.0 mb PDF), the United States Fire Administration (USFA) reported that there were 115 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States in 2007. This was an 11% increase from the 106 fatalities in 2006. As in prior years, heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death, accounting for about 45% of the fatalities. Vehicle-related incidents were the second highest cause of death, accounting for 27 fatalities. Firefighters lives were lost in 33 states and Washington, DC. South Carolina experienced the highest number of fatalities (11) while Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, and California each suffered more than 5 on-duty losses. Some other key statistics in the report 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
  • 27 firefighters were killed as a result of vehicle crashes

One of the objectives of the report is to analyze the circumstances surrounding the fatalities. This is intended to help identify approaches that could reduce the number of firefighter deaths in future years.
Additional resources
An abbreviated summary of the 2007 fatality report is also available.
Recognizing the need to do more to prevent line-of-duty deaths and injuries, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation launched a national initiative to bring prevention to the forefront. Everyone Goes Home offers online resources, tool boxes, a learning center, and a calendar of various life-safety initiatives and activities.
Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study 1990-2000 (PDF)
Annual Firefighter Fatality Reports

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