USFA Releases 2005 Firefighter Fatality Statistics

Emmitsburg, MD- The United States Fire Administration (USFA) has announced that there were 106 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States in 2005. In addition to these fatalities, the USFA has learned of four firefighter fatalities in 2005 related to injuries suffered in previous years, prior to 2005.

“The fire service of this nation has tragically lost again, too many firefighters in 2005,” said Deputy USFA Administrator Charles Dickinson. “The USFA approaches 2006, joined with the fire organizations and fire department leaders, to commit to doing what it takes to reduce these too often, preventable losses.”

In 2005, there were 4 multiple-firefighter fatality incidents:

  • Two New York City firefighters died in January when rapid fire progress forced them to jump from a fire-involved structure;
  • Three firefighters were killed in the crash of a helicopter in Texas in March as they assisted with a controlled burn;
  • Two Wyoming firefighters died in a residential structure fire in April; and
  • Three firefighters were killed in the crash of an air tanker in California.

Additionally, the New York City Fire Department suffered a third firefighter fatality on the same day as the January incident cited above, at another incident scene. The Memphis, Tennessee Fire Department lost 2 firefighters in separate incidents during the year.

Heart attacks were responsible for 48 firefighter deaths in 2005, reduced from 61 in 2004. Seven firefighters died of CVAs in 2005, up from four in 2004. Vehicle crashes took the lives of 26 firefighters in 2005. Five firefighters were killed in tanker (tender) crashes, 5 firefighters were killed in crashes that involved passenger vehicles, and 4 firefighters were killed in pumper crashes. Firefighters were also killed in crashes involving ATVs, aircraft, and a boat.

The United States Fire Administration has developed educational programs in the past few years to directly address firefighter deaths in vehicle crashes. Efforts have specifically targeted tanker operations, career firefighter vehicle operations, and volunteer firefighter vehicle operations. For additional information regarding these programs, go to http://www.usfa.fema.gov/research/safety/vehicle-roadway.shtm.

The average age of a firefighter killed in 2005 was 46. The youngest firefighter to die while on-duty in 2005 was an 18-year-old Connecticut firefighter who died after falling from a ladder during training. The oldest firefighter to die while on-duty in 2005 was a 76-year-old New Jersey firefighter who was struck by a suspected drunk driver at a roadside emergency scene.

These fatality statistics for 2005 are provisional and subject to change as the USFA contacts State Fire Marshals. For additional information on firefighter fatalities, including the annual fatality reports from 1986 through 2004 and the Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study 1990-2000, http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fatalities/statistics/.

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