USA — Heart attacks and strokes remain the biggest killers of firefighters, but numbers showed a slight drop in 2008, according to the USFA.
The USFA’s provisional 2008 firefighter fatality statistics said heart attacks and strokes were responsible for the deaths of 50 firefighters, 43.8 percent of the 114-on duty fatalities last year. This represents a decrease from the 54 on-duty deaths in 2007, which accounted for 45.7 percent of the total 118 fatalities.
The report also showed:
26 on-duty firefighters died in association with wildland fires, more than double the 11 wildland firefighter fatalities in 2007. The 2008 toll is also above the annual average of 21 wildland fire-associated fatalities over the past 10 years, 1999-2008.
64.9 percent of all firefighter fatalities occurred while performing emergency duties.
29 firefighters died in 2008 as the result of vehicle crashes. Fourteen of these deaths involved aircraft crashes, while 15 died in motor vehicle crashes. Six firefighters were killed in crashes involving their personal vehicles and three died in water tender (tanker) crashes. These two vehicle types have historically been most often involved in crashes that take the lives of firefighters.
“The tragic losses of on-duty firefighters in 2008 are a reminder of the necessary commitment and efforts by firefighters in all fire departments across the United States to focus on and improve our operational safety,” United States Fire Administrator Greg Cade said. “We understand all too well that many of these losses are preventable.”
During 2008, there were firefighters lost from 34 states and one from the Virgin Islands.
North Carolina experienced the highest number of fatalities (11), while Oregon (nine), Pennsylvania (nine), California (eight), New York (seven), Illinois (six), Missouri (six), and Ohio (six) each suffered more than five on-duty losses.