Trends in Firefighter Line of Duty Deaths

In 2017 alone, 60 firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty according to the National Fire Protection Association’s annual study of line of duty firefighter deaths.  It is important that we as citizens understand the risk firefighters take every day which is why we have broken down some of the statistics surrounding firefighter fatalities.

Trends in firefighter line of duty deaths - Firefighter Death Statistics

As we have covered previously, sudden cardiac events like heart attacks are a leading cause of firefighter fatalities in the United States. In 2017, 48% of firefighter line of duty deaths were a result of a sudden cardiac event. In comparison, only 5% of firefighters died from burns suffered in the line of duty which may come as a surprise. Year after year, cardiac events are the leading cause of death in the fire service protection due to the extreme stresses and physical exertions firefighters endure while responding to emergencies.

Firefighter Line of Duty Death Statistics

The USFA firefighter line of duty deaths report breakdown is as follows for the year 2017:

  • Deaths from heart attacks: 50
  • On-scene activity deaths: 18
  • Deaths en-route or from an incident: 11
  • Training deaths: 12
  • Other on-duty deaths: 16

As we have covered previously, heart attacks continue to be the leading cause of firefighter deaths in the United States. This may help to explain the fact that most firefighters who died in the line of duty were over the age of 50. In total, over 50% of firefighters over age 50 who died in the line of duty dies of sudden cardiac arrest, according to the USFA report.

The report also found that there were significantly more volunteer firefighters killed in the line of duty in 2017 than career firefighters. In total, 47 volunteer firefighters were killed in 2017 compared to 34 career firefighters.

To read the full USFA report on line of duty deaths in 2017, click here.

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