USFA Releases The Firefighter Fatalities Report For 2004

Emmitsburg, MD – The United States Fire Administration has released its report titled Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2004. This report details the circumstances and trends found in the 117 firefighter deaths experienced by the United States, in 2004. Firefighters that died on-duty in 2004 represent forty-one states. Pennsylvania suffered the largest number of deaths with 18 firefighter fatalities. In 2004, 36 career firefighters and 81 volunteer firefighters lost their lives serving their communities.

“The challenge to reduce firefighter fatalities is one the entire fire service needs to take an active role in addressing. Many of our firefighter fatalities could be prevented by simple steps to enhance safety such as using seat belts, reducing speed while responding, and improved training,” said Deputy United States Fire Administrator Charlie Dickinson. “The USFA looks forward to working with the many fire organizations and departments to continue the development and implementation of the 16 Everyone Goes Home firefighter safety initiatives.”

Eighty firefighters died in activities directly related to emergency incidents. This includes all firefighters who died while responding to an emergency, while at an emergency scene, or while returning from the emergency incident. Non-emergency activities accounted for 37 fatalities. Non-emergency duties include training, administrative activities, or performing other functions that are not related to an emergency incident.

  • Two Pittsburgh firefighters were killed in the collapse of a burning church, two Nebraska firefighters were killed in the collapse of a burning single-family residence, and two Philadelphia firefighters were killed when they became trapped in the basement of a burning home. The Philadelphia Fire Department also suffered the loss of a firefighter in a January structure fire.
  • Six female firefighters died in 2004. This level of female deaths was only been exceeded once in the past when four female firefighters perished in a single incident in 1994.
  • The leading type of duty being performed by firefighters that died in 2004 was working on the scene of a fire incident. Thirty firefighters died while working on fire scenes.
  • The second leading type of duty was responding and returning from an incident scene with 22 deaths. Over half of these deaths were in vehicle crashes.
  • 2004 had the highest level of stress or overexertion-related deaths in over a decade. There were 66 firefighter deaths that were attributed to stress and overexertion in 2004.
  • In 2004, 61 firefighters died of heart attacks, 4 died of strokes, and 1 firefighter died of a heart-related cause.

The report also contains detailed information on healthy eating and safety during specific components of emergency response. The report has been released in portable document format (pdf) for download from the USFA/FEMA/DHS Web site at or in hardcopy by calling the Publications Center at (800) 561-3356 between 7:30 am and 5:00 pm EST/EDT.

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