Latest Numbers Show an Increase in Volunteers

Washington, D.C. – According to a National Fire Protection Association report titled “U.S Fire Department Profile through 2002,” released in October 2003, the total amount of volunteers nationwide went up 4.1% from the year before and is the highest it has been since 1995. This marks a reversal in the downward trend we have seen in the amount of volunteers in since 1983, when there were 884,600 nationwide.

“While we are encouraged by these new figures, we still have a long way to go to reverse the trend that has been chipping away at our ranks for the last 20 years,” said National Volunteer Fire Council Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “The NVFC encourages firefighters to work with their elected officials at all levels of government to implement meaningful recruitment and retention programs.”

According to the report, there were 1,108,250 firefighters in the United States in 2002. Of these 291,650 (26%) were career and 816,600 (74%) were volunteer.

Stittleburg added, “Programs like NVFC’s 1-800-FIRE-LINE and the USA Freedom Corps Initiative, coupled with strong efforts at the local level, are reasons we feel why we are seeing this spike in volunteerism and we must work steadfastly to ensure this trend continues.”

Other Facts & Figures

  • From 1980 to 2002, total calls almost doubled and mutual aid calls tripled.
  • In 2002, a total of 97 firefighters were fatally injured while on duty. Of these, 30 were career, 50 were volunteer, and 17 were non-municipal (those not affiliated with local, public fire departments.
  • Most of the volunteer firefighters are in departments that protect 25,000 people or less.
  • During 2000-2002, 13% of U.S. fire departments provided advanced life support; 42% provided basic EMS; and 45% didn’t provide any EMS at all.
  • There were an estimated 15,550 collisions involving fire department emergency vehicles while responding to or returning from incidents. These collisions resulted in 1,040 firefighter injuries. Twenty-two firefighters died in vehicle crashes and seven others died after being struck by vehicles.

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