The U.S. fire service (2011)
Firefighter fatalities (2012)
- 1,129,250 firefighters protected the United States in 2012. 345,950 (31%) were career firefighters and 783,300 (69%) were volunteer firefighters.
- Most career firefighters (72%) are in communities that protect 25,000 or more people.
- Most volunteer firefighters (95%) 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 30,100 fire departments in the United States. These fire departments have an estimated 52,650 fire stations, 66,900 pumpers, 6,900 aerial apparatus and 74,000 other suppression vehicles.
- Two-thirds (68%) of fire department responses were medical calls in 2012.
- 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 2012, there were an estimated 14,850 collisions involving fire department emergency vehicles, while departments were responding to or returning from incidents.
Firefighter injuries (2012)
- There were 64 firefighter deaths in 2012.
- 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 2012, 27 were classified as sudden cardiac deaths, three strokes and one heat stroke.
- Fireground operations accounted for 21 deaths.
- Wildland structure fires accounted for the largest share of fireground deaths (8 deaths).
- Residential structure fires accounted for half of the 12 structure fire deaths (6 deaths).
- Sixteen firefighters died in 12 vehicle crashes. In addition to those deaths, three other firefighters were struck and killed by vehicles and one firefighter fell from the back step of a tanker.
- There were 69,400 firefighter injuries in 2012.
- 31,490 of all firefighter injuries in 2012 occurred during fireground operations. Other firefighter injuries by type of duty include: responding to, or returning from an incident (4,190); training (7,140); non-fire emergency (12,760); and other on-duty activities (13,820).
- 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 (27.5%) and fall, slip, jump (23.2%).
- Regionally, the Northeast had the highest fireground injury rate.
- U.S. Fire Department Profile through 2012, by Michael J. Karter, Jr.
- Fire Loss in the United States during 2012, by Michael J. Karter, Jr.
- Firefighter Fatalities in the United States - 2012, by Rita F. Fahy, Paul R. LeBlanc and Joseph L. Molis, (firefighter fatality figures have been updated since publication)
- U.S. Firefighter Injuries 2012, by Michael J. Karter, Jr., and Joseph L. Molis
See more detailed trend information about the U.S. fire service on the pages below.