Don’t worry about those fires kid
46, as of 5 June, that is. So, what is significant about that?
Only that it is nearly TWICE the number in almost as many days in 2016.
By 6 June 2016 the fire service had recorded 24 on-duty deaths. The year ended with a total of 88 fatalities. We are currently averaging out toward somewhere near that number this year. Even if we take away the 11 counted under the Hometown Heroes Act, we are still above last year’s number in early June.
What is killing so many this year? Nearly half of the cause and nature of our fatalities is ‘Unknown’, which is death due to some type of medical emergency, likely a cardiac issue, unknown at the time of the incident. Second are deaths due to motor vehicle accidents and collisions. These are on the rise again for another year.
Only five of the 46 fatalities to date occurred on a fire scene. As far as activity type, more firefighters to date have died doing something else besides firefighting, and in larger numbers. Of those on a fireground here are those numbers:
Advancing Hoselines: 2
Search and Rescue: 2
1: Firefighter collapses during a residential structure fire; passes away at hospital
1: Firefighter fractures his leg during live fire training. 18 days later shows signs of respiratory difficulty, cardiac arrest. Pulmonary embolism attributed to fracture is cause of death
Search and Rescue:
1: Firefighter suffers cardiac issue during training
1: Firefighter caught/trapped inside a commercial structure fire while searching for possible occupants.
1: Firefighter fell from roof or bucket of tower ladder during a residential structure fire
Even among those just two are directly related to firefighting operations pending any investigative reports for the others. So, what were the other 41 doing and how did they die? Maybe we need to look closer at Unknown and Not Incident Related. They seem to be racking up the numbers. We need to look at vehicle operations as well.
Twice the number over this time last year. I would bet that if the majority were due to flashover or falling through a roof we would certainly hear about it.
Bill Carey is the online public safety news and blog manager with PennWell Fire Group, or more specifically FireRescue Magazine/FirefighterNation.com and FireEMSBlogs.com. Bill started in the fire service as a third generation firefighter in 1986 on the eastern shore of Maryland and then continued after moving to Prince George’s County. He served as a volunteer sergeant and lieutenant at Hyattsville. Bill’s writing has been on Firehouse.com, Fire Engineering, FireRescue Magazine, FirefighterNation.com, and other sites. His recent writing on firefighter behavioral health was nominated for a 2014 Neal Award for Best Subject-Related Series.