USFA: Record low for on-duty firefighter deaths in 2010

The 85 firefighter fatalities recorded mark the lowest total since the USFA started keeping statistics in 1977

By FireRescue1 Staff

EMMITSBURG, Md. — Last year saw the lowest recorded number of on-duty firefighter deaths since the USFA began tracking totals, according to preliminary statistics.

The administration first started collating the figures in 1977, and 85 firefighter fatalities were recorded in 2010.

The total marks the second consecutive year of decline for on-duty death totals, as 2009 had experienced the lowest total in 15 years.

Stress and overexertion was again the cause of most fatalities, accounting for 61.1 percent of fatal injuries.

Heart attacks continue to be the leading type of fatal injury, claiming 56.4 percent of the deaths.

Fifteen of the deaths were classified as Hometown Heroes, meaning the firefighters died of heart attacks or strokes within 24 hours after responding or training.

Volunteers accounted for 55 of the deaths, while 28 were career firefighters, one was a paid full-time wildland firefighter and one was a paid-on-call firefighter.

Most of the firefighters who died were older than 50 — 20 were between 51 and 60 years old, while 25 were 61 years or more in age.

Statistics for the type of duty associated with deaths are:

  • 20 On-scene fire
  • 19 Other on-duty
  • 16 Responding
  • 16 After
  • 7 Training
  • 4 On-scene non-fire
  • 1 Returning
  • 1 Other
  • 1 Unknown

March and July were the deadliest months, with 11 deaths apiece.

The total of on-duty deaths could be revised in the following months as officials confirm reports from individual states.

"When evaluating the trend in on-duty firefighter fatalities over more than three decades, the past two years have seemed to reflect a possible change in the firefighting culture of the United States where 'Everyone Goes Home,' including all firefighters," Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines said.

"Working closely with our partners, USFA will continue every effort to be sure that when it comes to firefighter health and safety this downward trend in onduty firefighter deaths continues."

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