Saturday, September 26, 2009

USFA: Annual Report on Firefighter Fatalities in the United States

Emmitsburg, MD. – The United States Fire Administration (USFA) today released the report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2008. The report continues a series of annual studies by the USFA of on-duty firefighter fatalities. The USFA is the single public agency source of information for all on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States each year.

"The causes of death among firefighters are well known and the steps necessary to protect firefighters have been studied and reported in numerous forums,” United States Fire Administrator Kelvin J. Cochran said. “We must take the necessary steps to ensure, as much as possible, all firefighters return from every call, safely."

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 during the calendar year and to present in summary narrative form the circumstances surrounding each occurrence.

An overview of the 118 firefighters that died while on duty in 2008:

  • The total break down included 66 volunteer, 34 career, and 18 wildland agency firefighters.
  • There were 5 firefighter fatality incidents where 2 or more firefighters were killed, claiming a total of 18 firefighters' lives.
  • 26 firefighters were killed during activities involving brush, grass or wildland firefighting, more than twice the number killed the previous year.
  • Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 75 firefighters.
  • 28 firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.
  • 21 firefighters died while responding to, and 3 while returning from, emergency incidents.
  • 12 firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities.
  • 13 firefighters died after the conclusion of their on-duty activity.
  • Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death for 2008 with 45 firefighter deaths.

For 32 years, USFA has tracked the number of firefighter fatalities and conducted an annual analysis. Through the collection of information on the causes of firefighter deaths, the USFA is able to focus on specific problems and direct efforts toward finding solutions to reduce the number of firefighter fatalities in the future. This information is also used by many organizations to measure the effectiveness of their current efforts directed toward firefighter health and safety.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which worked closely with USFA on this report, also maintains a 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, Maryland. Visit www.FireHero.org for more information about the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and their assistance to the families of the firefighters lost in 2008 and beyond.

Year-to-date monthly and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted on the USFA's Web site at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/statistics/ff_stats.shtm.

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