USFA Releases Annual Firefighter Fatalities Report

Continuing a series of annual studies on-duty firefighter fatalities, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has released the report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2008.

"The causes of death among firefighters are well known and the steps necessary to protect firefighters have been studied and reported in numerous forums," said Kelvin J. Cochran, U.S. Fire Administrator. "We must take the necessary steps to ensure, as much as possible, all firefighters return from every call, safely."

The specific objective of report is to identify all on-duty firefighter fatalities that occurred in the United States and its protectorates during the calendar year and to present in summary narrative form the circumstances surrounding each occurrence.

An overview of the 118 firefighters that died while on duty in 2008:

  • The total breakdown included 66 volunteer, 34 career, and 18 wildland agency firefighters.
  • There were five firefighter fatality incidents where two or more firefighters were killed, claiming a total of 18 firefighters' lives.
  • Twenty-six firefighters were killed during activities involving brush, grass, or wildland firefighting, more than twice the number killed the previous year.
  • Activities related to emergency incidents resulted in the deaths of 75 firefighters.
  • Twenty-eight firefighters died while engaging in activities at the scene of a fire.
  • Twenty-one firefighters died while responding to, and three while returning from, emergency incidents.
  • Twelve firefighters died while they were engaged in training activities.
  • Thirteen firefighters died after the conclusion of their on-duty activity.
  • Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death for 2008 with 45 firefighter deaths.

Year-to-date monthly and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted on the USFA's Web site at www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/fatalities/statistics/ff_stats.shtm. To view a PDF of the report, go to www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/ff_fat08.pdf.

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