Fire/emergency medical services

Nearly 90 firefighters died while on duty in 2016: report

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Emmitsburg, MD — Eighty-nine firefighters were killed on the job in 2016, compared with 90 in 2015 and 94 in 2014, according to the U.S. Fire Administration’s recently released annual report detailing on-duty firefighter fatalities.

Among the 2016 fatalities, 56 came from the volunteer ranks, 23 were career firefighters and 10 were part of wildland agencies.

The leading cause of fatalities was “stress/overexertion” (43) – a category that includes heart attacks and strokes. Heart attacks were the most common cause of firefighter death, resulting in 40 fatalities.

The second-leading cause was vehicle-related crashes (19 fatalities) – the most in that category since 28 in 2008. Nine firefighters died during training activities.

The report defines “on duty” as “being involved in operations at the scene of an emergency” – fire or non-fire incident; responding to or returning from an incident; performing other official duties such as training, investigations or maintenance; or being on call or on standby (except at an individual’s home/business).

The youngest firefighter to die in 2016 was 20 years old; the oldest was 79.

USFA, which has tracked firefighter fatality data for 40 years, points out in the report that firefighting is “an inherently dangerous profession” but notes that “the risks can be greatly reduced through efforts to improve training, emergency scene operation, and firefighter health and safety.”

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