A Glimpse Into the Cost of Public Service: Firefighter Injuries and Fatalities…

Julian Ybarra, Journalist
Injected Media

(Tucson, Arizona – April 11, 2017) When emergency strikes, firefighters and first responders are on the front line to every call. The rewards of saving lives and protecting the public is undoubtedly the greatest honor one could achieve. However, the cost to fight a fire – or provide civilians this level of safety – can be high, often injuring civilians and first responders on the scene. An example of such tragedy is the Prescott, Arizona Fire in 2013 where 19 firefighters lost their lives. The loss of this elite crew ranks as one of the worst wildfire disasters in history.

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According to the National Fire Protection Association, 29,130 firefighters were injured on the fireground in 2015. Of those injuries received during fireground operations, 53 percent were related to strain, sprain and muscular pain. On a positive note, less than half of fireground injuries were related to exposure to fire, chemicals, contact with objects, struck by an object or extreme weather. The NFPA collected data relating to firefighter injuries and deaths while on-duty from fire departments across the nation.

Fireground injuries occur at the fire emergency scene and the surrounding area. Non-fireground injuries are all other injuries that occur outside of the fireground, these include responding and returning from incidents, non-fire emergencies, training and other on-duty activities. – NFPA

According to the NFPA data 68 firefighters died while on duty in 2015, however not all deaths actually happen because of fire related incidents. If we break down 68 of those deaths by type of duty, 24 were on the fireground, 11 were responding/returning, 10 were on scene at non-fire calls, 14 were other on-duty and 9 were during training. Still, most would agree – they were on duty as a public servant – and that deserves acclaim.

National Fire Protection Association

  • NFPA statistics and information click here


Additional data from the U.S. Fire Administration reports an additional 22 firefighter deaths making a total of 90 in 2015. In this data there were 26 fireground, 8 were responding/returning, 10 were on scene at non-fire calls, 20 were other on-duty, 7 during training and 19 after.

The difference in numbers is a result of data collection from many different organizations such as Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the National Volunteer Fire Council, State Fire Marshals, state fire training organizations, other state and local organizations, fire service internet sites, news services, and fire service publications. However the data from the NFPA and the USFA are reflective in one another.

U.S. Fire Administration

  • U.S. Fire Administration statistics click here
  • U.S. Fire Administration Firefighter Fatalities in 2015 PDF


Fireground: an area in which fire-fighting operations are carried on.

Julian Ybarra
Julian Ybarra is a journalist and media expert from Tucson, Arizona.
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