USFA annual report on firefighter fatalities in the United States

Published:  24 September, 2013

81 firefighters died while on duty in 2012 - two fewer than in 2011: heart attacks still the leading cause of death.

According to the report by the US Fire Administration, the 2012 total includes 12 firefighters who died under circumstances that were part of inclusion criteria changes resulting from the Hometown Heroes Act (the 2003 law presumes that a heart attack or stroke is in the line of duty if the firefighter was engaged in non-routine stressful or strenuous physical activity while on-duty and the firefighter becomes ill while on-duty or within 24 hours after engaging in such activity).

When not including these fatalities for the purposes of a trend analysis, a 2012 total of 69 firefighter fatalities, while somewhat above the 64 total from 2011, is the second lowest number of annual firefighter losses over the past 36 years.

Moreover, there have been three years in a row of record-low losses with 72 such deaths in 2010 being the third lowest on record.

The total break down included 42 volunteer, 28 career, and 11 wildland agency firefighters.

  • There were four multiple firefighter fatality incidents claiming a total of 10 firefighters.
  • 15 firefighters died in duties associated with wildland fires.
  • Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 45 firefighters.
  • 22 firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.
  • 17 firefighters died while responding to or returning from 16 emergency incidents.
  • 18 firefighters died as the result of 14 vehicle crashes, six involving POVs, six involving apparatus, and six from two separate incidents involving aircraft.
  • Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death with 39 firefighter deaths.
  • Eight firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities.
  • 12 firefighters died after the conclusion of their on-duty activity.

The 2012 report on Firefighter Fatalities in the United States may be downloaded here.

  • Operation Florian

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