Firefighter On-Duty Deaths Hit 107 In 2004
Despite continued advances in firefighting equipment, Incident Command System training, operations and safety training and improved communications, 107 U.S. firefighters died in the line of duty in 2004, a figure released today by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In addition to last year’s 107 firefighter deaths, the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has learned of an additional firefighter fatality in 2003 and a firefighter death in 2004 as the result of an incident in 2002.
These fatality statistics for 2004 are provisional and subject to change as the USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify the names of firefighters reported to have died on-duty during 2004. The final annual firefighter fatality report for 2004 is expected to be available by early June.
There were a total of 104 incidents that took the lives of firefighters in 2004:
–Career firefighters, those who are employed full-time as firefighters, comprised 29 deaths (27%) in 2004.
–Volunteer, seasonal, and part-time firefighters accounted for 78 deaths.
–Half of the firefighters that died in 2004 died from traumatic injuries such as asphyxiation, burns, drowning, vehicle crashes, and other physical injuries.
–The balance of firefighter deaths in 2004 were attributed to non-traumatic injuries such as heart attacks and strokes. Heart attacks caused the deaths of 49 on-duty firefighters.
–Nine firefighters died in 2004 in response to wildland fires (grass, trees, brush). This is the lowest level of wildland-related firefighter deaths since 1996 and represents a significant drop from the 29 wildland-related firefighter deaths that occurred in 2003.
–Three firefighters were killed when fire apparatus backed over them.
–A Pennsylvania incident occurred at the fire station and was not associated with an emergency response.
–Five firefighters were killed when they were struck by passing vehicles at the scene of an emergency.
–Additionally, four firefighters were killed in falls from fire department vehicles.
–A Massachusetts firefighter died when he fell from a responding engine company. This department also suffered a fatal fall injury involving fire apparatus in 1984.
–A Kentucky firefighter was shot and killed as she approached an emergency that involved domestic violence.
— Seven deaths involved the crash of firefighters’ personal vehicles. –Three firefighters died in aircraft crashes; one in a medical helicopter and two wildland fire fighting aircraft.
–Five firefighters died in crashes that involved responding fire apparatus.
–Firefighter deaths took place in 40 states. Pennsylvania had the highest number of deaths with 17 firefighters killed; Kentucky suffered seven deaths, followed by California, Florida, Illinois, and New Jersey with five deaths each.
–The average age of firefighters killed while on-duty in 2004 was 47. The average age of a firefighter that died of a heart attack or stroke was 52, and the average age of firefighters who died of traumatic injuries was 42.