The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported a total of 64 on-duty firefighter deaths in the U.S. in 2014, making 2014 the third year in the past four years that the total has been below 65 deaths. According to NFPA’s U.S. Firefighter Fatalities report, the number of 2014 fatalities is a significant decrease from the 97 deaths that occurred in 2013, when two incidents combined to claim the lives of 28 firefighters. NFPA released the results during a special session at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Chicago.
“Firefighter death rates have declined overall in recent years, with 2014 the sixth consecutive year that the total number of deaths was below 100,” says Dr. Rita Fahy, NFPA’s manager of fire databases and systems. “While the average number of on-duty firefighter deaths each year from 1995 to 2008 was in the low 100s, the annual average over the past decade is 83 on-duty deaths.”
Despite the sustained decline in on-duty fatalities over the past several years, sudden cardiac death continues to claim a major share of the on-duty deaths annually. More than half of the deaths in 2014 were from sudden cardiac events, the highest number since 2008.
Of the 64 firefighters who died while on duty in 2014, 34 were volunteer firefighters, 23 were career firefighters, three were employees of state land management agencies, two were state contractors, one was a civilian employee of a military fire department and one was a member of an industrial fire department. The largest share of deaths occurred while firefighters were operating at fires (22 deaths), the second lowest total number of fire ground deaths since this study began in 1977.
Deaths in road vehicle crashes, often the second most frequent cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities, continued to be low in 2014. With seven fatalities in seven crashes, this is the second lowest number of vehicle crashes and crash deaths over the past 30 years. None of the deaths in 2014 involved privately-owned vehicles, the first time that has been the case since 1983.
The firefighter fatality study is made possible by the cooperation and assistance of the United States Fire Service, the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program of the Department of Justice, CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the United States Fire Administration, the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
For more information about NFPA and the 2014 Firefighter Fatality Report, visit www.nfpa.org.