USFA Releases Annual Report on Firefighter Fatalities in the United States

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USFA Press Office: (301) 447-1853

Emmitsburg, MD. – The United States Fire Administration (USFA) today released the report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2009. The report continues a series of annual studies by the USFA of onduty firefighter fatalities. The USFA is the single public agency source of information for all onduty firefighter fatalities in the United States each year.

Ninety onduty firefighters from 33 states lost their lives as the result of incidents that occurred in 2009. Pennsylvania experienced the highest number of fatalities (8). In addition to Pennsylvania, only New York (7), North Carolina (6), Louisiana (5), and Texas (5), respectively, had 5 or more firefighter fatalities. This compares favorably to 2008's firefighter losses where 9 states experienced 5 or more onduty fatalities. The total number of fatalities in 2009 was one of the lowest totals in more than 30 years of record.

"Over the past ten years alone, the trend shows a 14 percent reduction in onduty firefighter fatalities but we must continue every effort to be sure that when it comes to firefighter health and safety, everyone goes home,” Acting United States Fire Administrator Glenn Gaines said.

Total Onduty Firefighter Fatalities by Year - Not Including Hometown Heroes or Fatalities Associated with WTC 9-11 (1977-2009) Total Onduty Firefighter Fatalities by Year (2000-2009)

Click charts above to enlarge

The unique and specific objective of Firefighter Fatalities in the United States is to identify all onduty firefighter fatalities that occurred in the United States and its protectorates during the calendar year and to present in summary narrative form the circumstances surrounding each occurrence.

An overview of the 90 firefighters that died while on duty in 2009:

“Heart attacks were the most frequent cause of death with 39 firefighter deaths.”

For 33 years, USFA has tracked the number of firefighter fatalities and conducted an annual analysis. Through the collection of information on the causes of firefighter deaths, the USFA is able to focus on specific problems and direct efforts toward finding solutions to reduce the number of firefighter fatalities in the future. This information is also used by many organizations to measure the effectiveness of their current efforts directed toward firefighter health and safety.

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which worked closely with USFA on this report, also maintains a list of firefighters who die in the line-of-duty and are honored during the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend held each October in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Visit www.FireHero.org for more information about the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and their assistance to the families of the firefighters lost in 2009 and beyond.

Year-to-date monthly and annual USFA firefighter fatality reports are posted on the USFA's website.


The United States Fire Administration recommends everyone should have a comprehensive fire protection plan that includes smoke alarms, residential sprinklers, and practicing a home fire escape plan.