Firefighter Fatalities 2007
NFPA Journal®, July/August 2008
By Rita F. Fahy Ph.D., Paul LeBlanc, and Joseph L. Molis
Download the full NFPA Journal feature (PDF, 4.4MB)
In 2007, a total of 102 on-duty firefighter deaths occurred in the U.S. This is a sharp increase over the 89 firefighter fatalities that occurred in 2006, but returns to the long-term trend of close to 100 on-duty deaths annually.1 Figure 1 shows firefighter deaths for the years 1977 through 2007, excluding the 340 firefighter deaths at the World Trade Center in 2001.
Of the 102 firefighters who died while on duty in 2007, 53 were volunteer firefighters, 42 were career firefighters, four were employees of state land management agencies, one was an employee of a federal land management agency, one was a contractor with a federal land management agency, and one was a member of an industrial fire brigade. This is the largest number of career firefighters to be killed in a single year since 1989 (not including the deaths at the World Trade Center in 2001). The average number of on-duty career firefighter deaths had been approximately 30 over the previous 10 years.
In 2007, there were seven multiple-fatality incidents—the most severe of which resulted in the deaths of nine career firefighters. This incident in Charleston, South Carolina, is described in the accompanying sidebar. The other six multiple-fatality incidents were all double-fatality incidents. Two firefighters were killed in a tanker (water tender) crash while responding to a fire; two in a gas explosion; and eight were killed while operating inside at four separate structure fires. More details will be presented throughout this article.
Analyses in this report examine the types of duty associated with firefighter deaths, the cause and nature of fatal injuries to firefighters, and the ages of the firefighters who died. They highlight deaths in intentionally set fi res and in motor vehicle-related incidents.2 A 10-year analysis showing trends in highway vehicle crashes is included. Finally, the study presents summaries of individual incidents that illustrate important problems or concerns in firefighter safety.
The NFPA's files for firefighter on-duty fatal injuries are updated continually for all year.
Rita F. Fahy Ph.D., is the manager of NFPA’s fire databases and systems. Paul LeBlanc and Joseph Molis are members of the NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Division.