The U.S. fire serviceThe U.S. fire service (2011)
Firefighter fatalities (2011)
1,100,450 firefighters protected the United States in 2011. 344,050 (31%) were career firefighters and 756,0400 (69%) were volunteer firefighters.
- Most career firefighters (73%) are in communities that protect 25,000 or more people.
- Most volunteer firefighters (94%) are in departments that protect fewer than 25,000 and more than half are located in small, rural departments that protect fewer than 2,500 people.
- There are an estimated 30,145 fire departments in the United States. These fire departments have an estimated 55,400 fire stations, 67,000 pumpers, 6,900 aerial apparatus and 73,800 other suppression vehicles.
- Two-thirds (66%) of fire department responses were medical calls in 2011.
- A fire department responds to a fire every 23 seconds.
- Departments protecting larger communities tend to have a higher proportion of firefighters in the age groups 30-39 and 40-49 than smaller communities.
- In 2011, there were an estimated 14,850 collisions involving fire department emergency vehicles, while departments were responding to or returning from incidents.
- There were 61 firefighter deaths in 2011.
- Stress, exertion, and other medical-related issues, which usually result in heart attacks or other sudden cardiac events, almost always account for the largest share of deaths in any given year. Of the 32 exertion- or medical-related fatalities in 2011, 31 were classified as sudden cardiac deaths and one was due to a stroke.
- Fireground operations accounted for 30 deaths.
- Residential structure fires accounted for the largest share of fireground deaths (12 deaths).
- Four firefighters died in four vehicle crashes. In addition to those deaths, three other firefighters were struck and killed by vehicles.
Firefighter injuries (2011)
- There were 70,090 firefighter injuries in 2011.
- 30,505 of all firefighter injuries in 2011 occurred during fireground operations. Other firefighter injuries by type of duty include: responding to, or returning from an incident (3,870); training (7,515); non-fire emergency (14,905); and other on-duty activities (13,295).
- The major types of injuries received during fireground operations were: strain, sprain; muscular pain; wound, cut, bleeding, bruise; and thermal stress.
- The leading causes of fireground injuries were overexertion, strain (28.4%) and fall, slip, jump (21.0%).
- Regionally, the Northeast had the highest fireground injury rate.
Sources: U.S. Fire Department Profile through 2011, by Michael J. Karter, Jr., Fire Loss in the United States during 2011, by Michael J. Karter, Jr., Firefighter Fatalities in the United States - 2011, by Rita F. Fahy, Paul R. LeBlanc and Joseph L. Molis, (firefighter fatality figures have been updated since publication) and U.S. Firefighter Injuries 2011, by Michael J. Karter, Jr., and Joseph L. Molis.
See more detailed trend information about the U.S. fire service on the pages below.