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June 14, 2013

Firefighter fatality report shows low number of on-duty deaths

Tally is second-lowest in 35 years

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released its annual Firefighter Fatality Report. There were 64 on-duty firefighter deaths last year in the United States, making 2012 the second consecutive year that the total has been below 65 deaths.

For the past four years, the annual total has been well below 100, dropping the annual average over the past 10 years to 88 deaths.

NFPA released the results during a special session at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Chicago.

“NFPA has been tracking this data since 1977 and it is certainly good news that the number of firefighter deaths has continued to decrease over the years,” Dr. Rita Fahy, NFPA’s manager of fire databases and systems, said in a press release. “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 64 firefighters who died while on duty in 2012, 30 were volunteer firefighters, 23 were career firefighters, four were members of the military, three were federal contractors, two were employees of federal land management agencies, and two were prison inmates. The largest share of deaths occurred while firefighters were operating on the fire ground (21 deaths). This is the lowest number of fire ground deaths since this study began.

The decline of firefighter deaths occurred in the following areas: lowest number of sudden cardiac deaths, lowest number of deaths at structure fires, lowest number of volunteer firefighter deaths, fourth consecutive year the total number of road vehicle crash deaths has been 10 or lower, and fifth consecutive year of decreasing on-duty cardiac-related deaths.

The firefighter fatality study is made possible by the cooperation and assistance of the U.S. Fire Service, the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program of the Department of Justice, CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the U.S. Fire Administration, the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

For more information about NFPA and the 2012 Firefighter Fatality Report, visit the website at nfpa.org.

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