For two decades, the National Fire Data Center has kept track of firefighter fatalities and conducted an analysis of the fatalities that occur each year. Through the collection of information on the causes of firefighter deaths, the USFA is able to focus on specific problems and direct efforts towards finding solutions to reduce the number of firefighter fatalities in the future. This information is also used to measure the effectiveness of current efforts directed toward firefighter health and safety.
The specific objective of the study Firefighter Fatalities in the United States is to identify all of the on-duty firefighter fatalities that occur in the United States and to analyze the circumstances surrounding each occurrence. The study is intended to help identify approaches that could reduce the number of deaths in future years
118 firefighters 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.
The 2008 report on firefighter fatalities in the United States may be downloaded HERE.