NFPA's annual firefighter fatality report shows lowest number of on-duty deaths for second consecutive year

Published on June 12, 2012

NFPA reports 61 on-duty firefighter deaths in 2011, the lowest annual total in 35 years

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June 12, 2012 Today the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) released its annual Firefighter Fatality Report showing a total of 61 on-duty firefighter deaths in the United States in 2011, the lowest annual total of firefighter deaths for the second consecutive year, as well as the lowest annual total in 35 years. The number of firefighter deaths has also sharply decreased over the past three years, a dramatic decline from 105 deaths in 2008. NFPA released the results during a special session at the NFPA Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

“It is certainly good news that the number of firefighter deaths has continued to decrease, reaching an all-time low since our first report in 1977,” says Dr. Rita Fahy, NFPA’s manager of fire databases & systems. “We are grateful for the sacrifices of these brave individuals and are hopeful that with expanded use of codes and standards and other safety initiatives the downward trend in the number of firefighters dying on duty will continue.”

VIDEO: Dr. Rita Fahy, manager of NFPA's fire databases and systems, presents the results of the 2011 fire fighter fatality study.

Of the 61 firefighters who died while on duty in 2011, 35 were volunteer firefighters, 21 were career firefighters, three were employees of state land management agencies and two were employees of federal land management agencies. The largest share of deaths occurred while firefighters were operating on the fire ground, representing 49 percent of the on-duty deaths in the year.

The decline of firefighter deaths occurred in the following areas:

  • Lowest number of sudden cardiac deaths
  • Lowest number of road vehicle crashes
  • No aircraft or watercraft crashes
  • The number of deaths while involved in training activities is the lowest since 1999
  • Lowest number of volunteer firefighter deaths ever
  • Lowest number of career firefighter deaths (tied with 1993)
  • Lowest number of deaths while responding to or returning from alarms

VIDEO: Ken Willette, division manager of NFPA's Public Fire Protection Division, provides a fire service perspective to the 2011 fire fighter fatality study, what's working, and what still needs to be done to reduce the number of work-related deaths. 

The firefighter fatality study is made possible by the cooperation and assistance of the United States fire service, the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program of the Department of Justice, CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the United States Fire Administration, the Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

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Contacts: Lorraine Carli, Public Affairs Office: +1 617 984-7275