The United States Fire Administration has released the report, “Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2004,” detailing the circumstances and trends found in the 117 firefighter deaths experienced by the United States in 2004.
Firefighters that died on-duty in 2004 represent 41 states. Pennsylvania suffered the largest number of deaths with 18 firefighter fatalities. In 2004, 36 career firefighters and 81 volunteer firefighters lost their lives serving their communities.
“The challenge to reduce firefighter fatalities is one the entire fire service needs to take an active role in addressing. Many of our firefighter fatalities could be prevented by simple steps to enhance safety such as using seat belts, reducing speed while responding and improved training,” said Deputy United States Fire Administrator Charlie Dickinson. “The USFA looks forward to working with the many fire organizations and departments to continue the development and implementation of the 16 ‘Everyone Goes Home’ firefighter safety initiatives.”
According to the report, 80 firefighters died in activities directly related to emergency incidents. That includes firefighters who died while responding to an emergency, at an emergency scene or returning from the emergency incident.
Among the fatalities, two Pittsburgh firefighters died in the collapse of a burning church, two Nebraska firefighters died in the collapse of a burning single-family residence, and two Philadelphia firefighters died when they became trapped in the basement of a burning home. The Philadelphia Fire Department also suffered the loss of a firefighter in a January structure fire.
Non-emergency activities accounted for 37 fatalities. Non-emergency duties include training, administrative activities or performing other functions not related to an emergency incident.
Six female firefighters died in 2004. That level of female deaths has only been exceeded once in the past, when four female firefighters perished in a single incident in 1994.
The leading type of duty being performed by firefighters that died in 2004 was working on the scene of a fire incident. Thirty firefighters died while working on fire scenes.
The second leading type of duty was responding and returning from an incident scene, with 22 deaths. More than half of those deaths were in vehicle crashes.
In 2004, the highest level of stress or overexertion-related deaths were recorded in more than a decade. There were 66 firefighter deaths that were attributed to stress and overexertion.
The report also contains information on healthy eating and safety during emergency response. In 2004, 61 firefighters died of heart attacks, 4 died of strokes, and 1 firefighter died of a heart-related cause. For more information, visit: www.usfa.fema.gov/statistics/reports/pubs/tfrs.shtm.
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