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NFPA Reports Lowest Number of LODDs in 34 Years

Return to the June 15, 2011 issue of On Scene

IAFC On Scene: June 15, 2011

Report shows drop in average number of deaths over 10-year period, but deaths from cardiac arrest remain steady

According to the NFPA, the number of on-duty firefighter deaths is the lowest since 1977. The NFPA released its annual Firefighter Fatality Report at the NFPA Conference & Expo, which shows that a total of 72 on-duty firefighter deaths occurred in the United States in 2010. This is a sharp drop from the 105 on-duty deaths in 2008 and 82 in 2009—it’s the lowest annual total since the NFPA began conducting this annual study in 1977.

“We are very pleased to see that the number of on-duty firefighter deaths is at an historic low and continues to decline each year,” said James Shannon the president & CEO of the NFPA. “We strongly believe that the advances in training, equipment and fire codes are a major factor in reducing the deaths of these brave men and women that make up the ranks of volunteer and career firefighters.”

This is the fifth time in the past 10 years that the number of deaths has been below 100. While the number of total deaths has dropped sharply, the number of cardiac-related deaths has not; this number has been remarkably stable over the past six years.

The report found that the areas in which the deaths declined was diverse. Last year saw the lowest number of fireground deaths ever at 21 and the second lowest number of deaths while responding to or returning from alarms at 18 deaths.

Deaths related to training activities and deaths while engaged in other nonemergency duties about matched the average numbers from the previous 10 years (11 and 18 deaths, respectively).

Other key findings were highlighted in the report:

  • There were nine deaths in crashes of road vehicles in 2010, as well as in 2009, which is the lowest since 1983.
  • There were 44 volunteer firefighter deaths in 2010, which continues a downward trend.
  • The ages of all U.S. firefighters who died ranged from 20 to 86 with a median age of 52.5 years.

Each year, the NFPA collects data on all firefighter fatalities in the U.S. that result from injuries or illnesses that occurred while the victims were on-duty. According to this data-collection process, the term on-duty refers to being at the scene of an alarm, whether a fire or nonfire incident; while responding to or returning from an alarm; while participating in other fire department duties.