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NFPA report shows 64 on-duty firefighter fatalities in 2018

Continues five-year trend of fewer than 70 deaths per year

Posted June 24, 2019

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recently released its annual Firefighter Fatality report, which showed a total of 64 firefighter deaths while on duty in 2018. This continues a five-year trend of fewer than 70 deaths per year and is also the eighth time in the last 10 years that fewer than 70 on-duty deaths have occurred.

The report states that of the 64 fatalities, 34 were volunteer firefighters, 25 were career firefighters, four were employees or contractors for federal or state land management agencies, and one was a prison inmate.

Overexertion, stress, and medical issues accounted for the largest share of deaths. Of the 28 deaths in this category, 25 were classified as sudden cardiac deaths (usually heart attacks). While cardiac-related events have accounted for 44 percent of the on-duty deaths over the past 10 years, 2018 represents the third consecutive year that the toll has been below 30.

The second-largest share of on-duty deaths resulted from road vehicle crashes, with 11 deaths in 2018. The death toll due to crashes is only slightly lower than the average 13 deaths per year that have occurred in crashes over the past 40-plus years, but in the same timeframe, fire department call volume has more than tripled. One firefighter was murdered when responding to a fire call in 2018.

The U.S. Fire Service, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the U.S. Fire Administration, the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior all contributed to the study.

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