Firefighter fatality statistics for 1985
There are nearly 1.3-million volunteer and career firefighters serving on nearly 30,000 fire departments throughout the United States. In 1985, 64 volunteers and 58 career firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty.
These statistics, based on National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) findings, show a slight increase over the 1984 figures. The number of line of duty deaths had been steadily decreasing since 1981, reaching a low of 110 in 1983. There has been no explanation offered as to the recent increase in firefighter fatalities.
Heart attacks were the most frequently reported fatal injury, according to the NFPA’s U.S. Firefighter Deaths 1985, leading to 51 deaths. The report further states that 11 of those who died of heart attacks had a prior history of heart disease, and that age could be another factor in heart attack fatalities. More than two-thirds of the firefighters over age 45 who died in 1985 died of heart attacks.
Twenty-four firefighters died fighting incendiary or suspicious fires, a considerable increase over the 13 deaths attributed to the same cause in 1984.
Another major determinant of firefighter deaths (23 in 1985) and one that could definitely be reduced by improved and enforced safety procedures is apparatus and motor vehicle accidents. The majority of these fatalities occurred when firefighters were responding to or returning from alarms; seven resulted when firefighters riding on the exterior of the apparatus slipped or were thrown from the vehicles.