USFA 2019 firefighter fatality report shows fewest number of LODDs in decades

62 firefighters died in the line of duty, with the leading cause of fatal injury being stress or overexertion


By Janelle Foskett

USFA

The U.S. Fire Administration released its annual firefighter fatality report on Friday, detailing the firefighter line-of-duty deaths (LODDs) that occurred in 2019.

Sixty-two firefighters died on duty in 2019 – the lowest total since the USFA began the annual study. Of those firefighters, 34 were volunteers (25 from rural departments, nine from urban/suburban departments), 25 were career (seven from rural departments, 18 from urban/suburban departments) and three were wildland firefighters (two full-time firefighters, one part-time/seasonal firefighter).

The 2019 total reflects 22 fewer firefighter LODDs than in 2018.

In 2019, the leading cause of fatal injury in firefighters was stress or overexertion, with 36 firefighters dying of cardiac or cerebrovascular illness, such as heart attacks and strokes, as well as other events, such as extreme climatic thermal exposure.

Some report details:

  • 37 firefighters died from activities related to an emergency incident.
  • 33 firefighters died from heart attacks.
  • 18 firefighters died from activities at a fire scene, with 5 killed while advancing hoselines.
  • 12 firefighters died from activities at a non-fire scene.
  • 8 firefighters died while responding to or returning from emergency incidents.
  • 5 firefighters died while participating in training activities, 3 suffering heart attacks and 2 heat exhaustion.
  • 19 firefighters were over 60 years of age.
  • 61 firefighters were male, and 1 was female.

Of the non-fire scene deaths, five of the 12 firefighters died from heart attacks, four from traumatic injuries, one from a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), one from electrocution, and one from violence (shooting). Two of the traumatic injury deaths were from being struck by a vehicle.

The objective of the annual firefighter fatalities study is to identify all on-duty firefighter fatalities and to analyze the circumstances surrounding each occurrence in order to reduce the number of firefighter deaths in future years.

The report prepared by the USFA, the National Fire Data Center and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF).

Other resources and information regarding firefighter fatalities, including current fatality notices, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial database and links to the Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) program, can be found here.

[Next: Watch the FireRescue1 video tribute to the firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2019.]

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