Heart Attacks Still Top Killer of Firefighters

Heart attacks and crashes continue to be the leading causes of firefighter deaths, according to USFA statistics released late last week.

Records show 118 firefighters died on duty in 2007, compared to 106 in 2006.

The victims included 60 volunteers; 49, career; four full-time wildland; two paid on-call, and one each, contract wildland, part-time paid and industrial.

The USFA keeps track of personnel who suffer a fatal illness or injury while performing their duties. In addition to fighting or responding to an emergency, "on duty" deaths also are identified as those that occur during training, maintenance, public education, inspection, investigation, fundraising and court testimony, reports indicated.

Seven incidents last year involved the deaths of multiple firefighters. On June 18, nine Charleston personnel were killed while battling a furniture store fire.

Three of the nation's firefighters died while fighting suspicious blazes, investigators determined.

June was the deadliest month with 15; followed by May, July and August with 14. October saw the fewest -- five.

Thirty-three of the firefighters who died were between 41-50, while 26 were 31-40 and 22 were 51-60.

Records also show that 48 fatalities occurred while personnel were not on the scene, 24 while responding, 15 during search and rescue and 11 while advancing hose lines.

Read the entire report.