Firefighters and Fire Departments by the Numbers

Each year, NFPA® provides an overview of fire departments in the United States. The analysis includes firefighters, fire departments, apparatus, and stations. The results are based on data collected by two NFPA annual surveys, the US fire experience survey, and the fire service inventory survey.

According to the new US Fire Department Profile report from NFPA, there were approximately 1,041,200 career and volunteer firefighters in the US in 2020.  This total is down 4 percent from the previous year and is the lowest total since 1991.  A decrease of volunteer firefighters played a role in this trend. 

There were 364,300 career firefighters in 2020, representing an increase of 2 percent from the previous year. In addition, there were 676,900 volunteer firefighters, a decrease of 6 percent from the previous year, and the lowest number of volunteer firefighters reported over the years.

In 2020, there were 89,600 female firefighters—17,200 career and 72,400 volunteer.

There are an estimated 29,452 fire departments in the United States, with the majority (82%) of the fire departments being all or mostly volunteer.   These are the departments that protected almost one third of the US population.  Fire departments categorized as all-career or mostly career represent one-sixth (18%) of all the fire departments in the US and protect more than two-thirds of the US population.

Estimates of the number of apparatus and fire stations in the US during 2018–2020 indicate that there were 68,800 pumpers; 7,400 aerial apparatuses; 76,300 other suppression vehicles (e.g., pumpers less than 1,000 gpm, brush vehicles, tankers); 48,800 other vehicles (e.g., rescue, lighting, and ambulance vehicles); and 54,600 stations.

Nationwide, 37 percent of fire departments provided no emergency medical services, 46 percent provided basic life support (BLS), and 17 percent provided advanced life support (ALS).

Curious about trends and statistics by population protected? See the full report.

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Nancy Schwartz
Nancy Schwartz
Manager, Communications and Operations, Research

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