The United States Fire Administration (USFA) announced today there were 81 on-duty firefighter fatalities in the United States as a result of incidents that occurred in 2011. This represents an almost seven percent decrease from the 87 fatalities reported for 2010. The 81 fatalities occurred in 33 states, one U.S. territory, and one overseas U.S. military facility. Texas experienced the highest number of fatalities (seven). North Carolina experienced six firefighter deaths and was the only other state with five or more firefighter fatalities.
“In 2004 at the initial Life Safety Summit, a number of fire service leaders did not believe we would complete a calendar year with less than 100 firefighter on-duty deaths,” U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell said. “We broke through that perceived barrier in 2009, 2010, and now in 2011! We salute and congratulate our fire service family and pledge to continue working closely with the entire fire service community and its partners to maintain and even accelerate this downward trend in on-duty firefighter deaths.”
Heart attacks were responsible for the deaths of 48 firefighters (59%) in 2011, nearly the same proportion of firefighter deaths from heart attack or stroke (60%) in 2010. Ten on-duty firefighters died in association with wildland fires, the lowest number of annual firefighter deaths associated with wildland fires since 1996. Fifty-four percent of all firefighter fatalities occurred while performing emergency duties. Only three firefighters were killed in vehicle collisions.
2011 firefighter fatality statistics are provisional and may change as the USFA contacts State Fire Marshals to verify the names of firefighters reported to have died on duty during 2011. The final number of firefighter fatalities will be reported in USFA’s annual firefighter fatality report, expected to be available by July 2012.
For additional information on firefighter fatalities, including the annual fatality reports from 1986 through 2010 and the Firefighter Fatality Retrospective Study 1990–2000, please visit the http://www.usfa.fema.gov.