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Firefighter fatalities in the United States

Report: NFPA's "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States - 2018"
Author: 
Rita F. Fahy and Joseph L. Molis
Issued: June 2019

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

  • The 64 on-duty firefighter deaths in 2018 represents the eighth time in the last 10 years that the total has been below 70.
  • There were 25 deaths at fires in 2018, with the largest share in structure fires (13), followed by wildland (10), a vehicle fire and a gas main explosion.
  • Sudden cardiac death accounted for about 40% of the on-duty fatalities.
  • The number of firefighters struck and killed by vehicles dropped from 10 in 2017 to three in 2018.
  • There was one murder of a firefighter on responding to a fire call.
Related reports
Related tables

Firefighter deaths by type of duty - 2018

Older versions of the report
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