Report Shows Lowest Number of On-Duty Firefighter Deaths for Second Consecutive Year

The number of firefighter deaths has also sharply decreased over the past three years, a dramatic decline from 105 deaths in 2008.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released its annual Firefighter Fatality Report showing a total of 61 on-duty firefighter deaths in the United States in 2011, the lowest annual total of firefighter deaths for the second consecutive year, as well as the lowest annual total in 35 years. The number of firefighter deaths has also sharply decreased over the past three years, a dramatic decline from 105 deaths in 2008. NFPA on June 13 released the results during a special session at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

“It is certainly good news that the number of firefighter deaths has continued to decrease, reaching an all-time low since our first report in 1977,” says Rita Fahy, NFPA’s manager of fire databases & systems. “We are grateful for the sacrifices of these brave individuals and are hopeful that with expanded use of codes and standards and other safety initiatives the downward trend in the number of firefighters dying on duty will continue.”

Of the 61 firefighters who died while on duty in 2011, 35 were volunteer firefighters, 21 were career firefighters, three were employees of state land management agencies, and two were employees of federal land management agencies. The largest share of deaths occurred while firefighters were operating on the fire ground, representing 49 percent of the on-duty deaths in the year.

The decline of firefighter deaths occurred in the following areas:

  • Lowest number of sudden cardiac deaths
  • Lowest number of road vehicle crashes
  • No aircraft or watercraft crashes
  • The number of deaths while involved in training activities is the lowest since 1999
  • Lowest number of volunteer firefighter deaths ever
  • Lowest number of career firefighter deaths (tied with 1993)
  • Lowest number of deaths while responding to or returning from alarms
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