NFPA: Firefighter LODDs in 2023 Second Highest in Decade

June 19, 2024
The 89 firefighters who perished while protecting their communities died of traumatic injuries, heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms, the NFPA analysis shows.

Last year, the nation's fire service experienced the second highest death toll of firefighters in a decade.

While performing their duties in small and large communities, 89 firefighters died compared to 97 in 2022, according to a study released this week by the NFPA.

In 2013, studies showed 98 firefighters perished.

The 89 firefighters died from traumatic injuries, heart attacks, strokes, or aneurysms while on duty or within 24 hours of duty. Two women were among those who perished, according to 2023 records.

"The increase in recorded fatalities over the past two years has been substantially influenced by the inclusion of deaths that occurred within 24 hours of duty. Prior to 2022, these deaths were not included in the study unless victims expressed a specific physical complaint while on duty," according to the analysis conducted by Richard Campbell and Jay T. Petrillo.

Of the 89 firefighters who died of on-duty injuries in 2023, 80 were municipal firefighters and nine were non-municipal firefighters. The municipal firefighters included 48 volunteer firefighters, 30 career firefighters, and two paid part-time firefighters.

The study also reported nine non-municipal personnel included seven wildland  and two military firefighters. Paid part-time firefighters are included in the volunteer fatality totals.

The highest fatal injury total over the course of the study is 174 firefighter deaths in 1978 and the lowest total is the 48 deaths recorded in 2019.

Seventeen of the 97 fatalities in 2022 and 16 of the 89 fatalities in 2023 were the newly included heart attacks and strokes within 24 hours.

Duties involving fire suppression, responding to or returning from incidents, training, and non-fire emergency incidents account for the majority of the fatal injury incidents. 

Authors determined:

  • The largest share of deaths (32) occurred while firefighters were operating at fires or explosions (36 percent of the total number of fatalities).
  • Nineteen firefighters (21 percent) sustained fatal injuries while responding to or returning from alarms.
  • Training (11 percent) activities and non-fire emergencies (11 percent) each claimed the lives of ten firefighters.
  • Seven firefighters (8 percent) died while in the course of normal station duties.
  • Five firefighters (6 percent) died while engaged in emergency medical response duties.

Others who perished while performing maintenance work at the firehouse (3 deaths, 3 percent) or other unspecified duties (3 deaths, 3 percent).

Looking at the data, Campbell and Petrillo determined: "The number of fireground deaths in 2023 (32) is a decrease from the 34 fireground fatalities in 2022. Five of the deaths were sudden cardiac deaths within 24 hours of duty that would not have been included prior to 2022. For these deaths, activities at the fireground were presumed to have precipitated the heart attacks, which subsequently occurred while off duty. However, even a historically consistent count of 27 fireground deaths in 2023 is higher than the numbers for 2014 through 2020, when there were 25 fireground deaths or fewer. However, fireground deaths have fallen substantially since the late 1970s, when there were an average of more than 80 per year."

About the Author

Susan Nicol | News Editor

Susan Nicol is the news editor for She is a life member and active with the Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance & Rescue Company, Oxford Fire Company and Brunswick Vol. Fire Co. Susie has been an EMT in Maryland since 1976. Susie is vice-president of the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum. She is on the executive committee of Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. She also is part of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) Region II EMS Council. Susie is a board member of the American Trauma Society, Maryland Division. Prior to joining the Firehouse team, she was a staff writer for The Frederick News-Post, covering fire, law enforcement, court and legislative issues. 

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