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Firefighter fatalities in the United States

Report: NFPA's "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States - 2019"
Author: Rita F. Fahy, Jay T. Petrillo, and Joseph L. Molis
Issued: July 2020

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

2019 was a year of historic milestones:
  • Lowest annual death toll (48 deaths)
  • Lowest number of volunteer firefighter fatalities (25 deaths)
  • Lowest number of deaths on the fire ground (13 deaths; 10 in structures and 3 on wildland fires)
  • Lowest number of sudden cardiac deaths (22 deaths)
  • Lowest number of road crash deaths (3 deaths)
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Firefighter deaths by type of duty 

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