The U.S. Fire Administration recently released its annual firefighter line of duty deaths report. The numbers cover line of duty deaths (lodd) from 2017. In total, 87 firefighters lost their lives while on duty in the year 2017, which was slightly lower than the 91 reported deaths in 2016.
The USFA report breakdown is as follows for the year 2017:
- Deaths from heart attacks: 50
- On-scene activity deaths: 18
- Deaths en-route or from an incident: 11
- Training deaths: 12
- Other on-duty deaths: 16
Of the statistics listed above, one jumps out as abnormal and raises a major question about the dangers firefighters face on the job: Why are so many firefighter deaths the result of heart attacks?
The easy answer to this question is that firefighters face enormous physical and mental strains while on duty. That may not be the only reason for this worrying trend in firefighter line of duty deaths. Of the 50 firefighters who died from heart attacks, 38 were over the age of 50. Clearly, there is a direct relationship between age and line of duty deaths in the fire service profession, but are there other issues to consider like training, diet and physical fitness? And what, if anything, can be done to stop this alarming trend in firefighter line of duty deaths?
In the coming weeks, Firefighters and EMS Fund will take a deeper dive into the causes of firefighter line of duty deaths and what can be done to make the profession safer.