Statistics Show Heart Attacks Leading Cause of LODDs

Updated: 01-26-2007 02:35:51 PM

Firehouse.Com News

Heart attacks continue to be the leading cause of firefighter deaths.

Preliminary reports from the U.S. Fire Administration indicate 104 firefighters died on duty last year. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation recorded 94 line of duty deaths.

Two firefighters injured in incidents in previous years died in 2006, pushing the USFA total to 106.

In addition to heart attacks, other leading causes of firefighter deaths were trauma, burns and asphyxiation. Personnel also were killed in crashes involving fire apparatus and while responding in personal vehicles.

The majority of the victims were in their 40s, 50s and 30s, according to documents.

A final report on firefighter deaths will be compiled after the USFA officials examine the statistics. They are contacting every state fire marshals office to make sure all are counted.

If the NFFF number stands, it will be the second year that firefighter deaths have been below 100. But, that's still too many, said Ron Siarnicki, NFFF executive director.

Siarnicki said the fire service needs to take charge of its own destiny, and promote safe practices.

Last fall, every fire department in the United States received a kit containing a video and exercises to promote safety.

In addition, state fire instructors have been teaching departments a program promoting 16 life safety initiatives established following a national summit two years ago.

The goal of the Everyone Goes Home program is to reduce the number of firefighter deaths by 25 percent in five years, and 50 percent in 10.

Since the initial national summit in Florida, there have been six mini-summits addressing issues such as training, apparatus safety, fitness, prevention, wildland and structural firefighting. Those reports are available on the website.

Also, white papers on each of the initiatives are being compiled. They will be used as background when officials meet for the second national summit in California in March.

Siarnicki said the group will review the progress over the past two years as well as the next movements.

"We have prioritized research, and I think that was very important. We held a symposium in 2005, and outlined what we believed were the issues that needed to be addressed."

Meanwhile, he said the NFFF staff remains committed to assisting survivors.

Plans are underway for the second annual survivors?? conference scheduled to coincide with the annual CFSI seminars and dinner in Washington, D.C.

"We're also working with CFSI so the survivors will be able to attend the annual dinner," Siarnicki said, adding that the group will be encouraged to visit their representatives on Capitol Hill.

The conference, funded by a FIRE Act grant, will include a keynote speaker and individual breakout sessions. It is open to family members, friends and colleagues of fallen heroes.