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Report: NFPA's "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States - 2016"
Author: 
Rita F. Fahy, Paul R. LeBlanc and Joseph L. Molis
Issued: June 2017

This report includes overall statistics on line-of-duty firefighter fatalities, including non-incident-related deaths. Includes patterns, trends, career vs. volunteer comparisons, and brief narratives on selected incidents.

Firefighting is a dangerous profession, and a growing body of research and data show the contributions that job-related exposures have in chronic illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, and in behavioral health issues that may end in suicide. These deaths and injuries are in addition to the incident-specific deaths and injuries that occur while on-duty. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently undertook two large studies focused on firefighter cancer and concluded that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses, and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population in the U.S. NIOSH has also reported on the risk to firefighters of cardiovascular conditions. Firefighter suicides are tracked by the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance.  

NFPA’s own work in this area focuses on the deaths and injuries of firefighters that are due to specific events while on-duty.


Report highlights

  • With 69 on-duty firefighter deaths in 2016, the annual total continued below average, with fewer than 70 deaths a year in five of the past six years.
  • The 15 deaths on the fireground is the lowest total reported in the 40 years of this study.
  • Sudden cardiac deaths and internal trauma accounted for the largest shares of the deaths (26 deaths each).
  • The number of deaths of career firefighters was the lowest total ever reported (19 deaths).
Related information

Firefighter deaths by cause of injury - 2016

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