2007 On-Duty Deaths, the Details

Last year was a deadly one for the nation's fire service.

Preliminary reports indicate 115 personnel died on duty in 2007 compared to 106 the previous year.

A USFA historical overview reveals that there were 115 LODDs also in 2005 and 119 in 2004. There also were 119 in 1989.

Heart attacks remain the leading killer. Stress and over exertion also were contributing factors in many deaths.

The 115 includes at least eight firefighters categorized by the USFA to be Hometown Heroes, according to statistics compiled by Mark Whitney, fire program specialist at the USFA.

Hometown Heroes are personnel who die of heart attacks or strokes. Until October, DOJ officials questioned whether their families should receive benefits as Congress had outlined.

During the annual NFFF memorial service in Emmitsburg, President Bush vowed to properly recognize those heroes for their sacrifice.

"That's the least we can do as we honor the families of those who have died in the line of service," Bush told those gathered.

Whitney said he will be reviewing documents and checking with each state to ascertain if there were any other on-duty deaths. "That number, 115, may change. These are provisional numbers right now. We are still looking at things."

The loss of nine Charleston firefighters in June marked the largest loss of life since the terrorists' attack on Sept. 11.

There were six other incidents that involved the deaths of more than one firefighter. They occurred in Ghent, W.Va., Rhodes Town, N.C., Contra Costa, Cal., Noonday, Texas, New York City and Boston.

In 2007, 59 volunteers and 49 career firefighters were killed. The victims also included three full-time and one contract wildland firefighters, two paid-on call and one industrial fireman.

Records also show 37 were killed on the fire scene; 24 responding;; 20 on-duty; 13 after an incident; 11 training; 8 on scene, non-fire and 2 returning.

Two fire personnel lost their lives during suspicious fires.

The USFA criteria for line-of-duty deaths differs from those of The National Fallen Firefighters' Foundation and the National Fire Protection Association.

Still, it was a sad year for fire personnel, he said, adding that many organizations are promoting programs to stem the tide of injuries and deaths.

More than 200 fire service officials -- who brain-stormed during the second National Firefighter Life Safety Summit in California -- said it's imperative for the fire culture to change. Without it, they said, firefighters will continue to be killed or injured.

Among their key recommendations in addition to promoting safety included adopt crew resource management, make no exceptions for fitness for duty rules, enforce seat belt compliance, create and participate in data programs, establish driving protocols and participate in Firefighter Near-Miss.

They also made suggestions about reducing risks, getting involved in code initiatives, purchasing safer apparatus and tools and making fire and life safety education a higher priority.

The NFFF took its Everyone Goes Home program on the road last spring. A motorcoach -- wrapped with various fire-related pictures and the names of 3,147 fallen fire heroes -- visited cities and towns throughout the country.

Those aboard touted the importance of embracing the 16 Life Safety Initiatives. 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.

The NFFF officials on the Whistle Stop Tour also promoted the "Courage to Stay Safe -- So Everyone Goes Home" course.

View the entire U.S. Fire Administrations's annual report