A further, more specific, breakdown of the numbers and information shows the following:
Chief Officer: 6; Line Officer: 15; Firefighter: 32
Line Officer, in this writing, refers to traditional sub-command positions (i.e. captain, lieutenant, and corporal) as well as “station chief” as it was listed congruent with “firefighter”.
Of the 32 firefighters, I include air crew positions in wildland firefighting aircraft as well as the one fire-police position and the one probationary firefighter. It is interesting to note, as far as position type Chief Officers, that four of the six were actual chiefs of their departments. Likewise, of the six, only one died while responding to an alarm.
28 were volunteer members. 25 were career members. For this writing, “career members” includes those who are listed as “part time” and “wildland contract”.
Attack (actions involved in suppression and search duties): 10
Crash: 4. Aircrew members who died as a result of their aircraft striking the ground.
In the “Attack” data, the information can be broken down farther:
Interior Fire Attack: 4; Ground Cover Fire: 2; MPO (motor pump operator, to borrow the FDNY phrase, victims who were working as the pump operator at the time of their death or shortly afterwards): 2; Self Removal: 1. “Self Removal” means that the victim recognized, in some manner, that something was physically wrong and they removed themselves from the fire structure prior to collapsing. Search/Rescue: 1;
One wildland firefighter was killed in a tree abatement operation when he was struck and killed. The USFA classifies this Duty Type as “Other On-Duty” therefore I won’t include it with the Attack” data.
In addition to those above, three victims were killed on the fireground, outside of the presented “Attack” duties. One was struck and killed by a privately-owned vehicle while operating at a “trees down” call; one was struck by a privately-owned vehicle while driving fire apparatus and killed; and one was killed when fire apparatus backed over him.
Looking at the “fireground” and “attack” numbers, of the 10 who died, four were either chief officers or line officers directly involved in fire suppression activities. None of the victims were directly responsible for the incident at an Incident Command level, according to information available at time of research.
Only one fatality may be attributed to disorientation, or having exhausted his or her SCBA air supply. A chief officer died of asphyxiation while fighting a silo fire.
Only one fatality may be attributed to affecting a rescue. One firefighter collapsed and died after having climbed a ladder and removed an occupant from a window of the fire building.
Of the four “interior fire attack” fatalities, “Fire Building” represents for us the multiple fatality data. Two fires occurred in one- and two-family private dwellings, each claiming the lives of two firefighters.
In 2009 almost half (21) of the 53 fatalities were either chief officers or line officers. Regarding the interior fire attack, and not including the wildland aircraft crashes, four were killed fighting residential structure fires. Almost as many (3) were killed on the fireground in a vehicle related incident, not to include response. Two fireground deaths involved pump operators. One fireground death is directly related to occupant rescue/removal, and one is directly related to disorientation. The next post will look at response, medical causes and redefine the definition of “line of duty”. The last post will recalculate the data and compare.