Question from a Reader

2018 on the inside

By Bill Carey

Originally published 9 November 2019.

“Do you know the line of duty death total for 2018 and how many were involved on the interior?”

A total of 84 firefighters are listed as the 2018 on-duty deaths as defined and reported by the United States Fire Administration (USFA)[1].  There is a conflict with this as the USFA report for 2018 lists 82 fatalities[2].  The number of fatalities defined by the Hometown Heroes Act stands at 14 in the database and the report.    The two missing fatalities from the report are not noted anywhere.

Looking at ‘interior’ fatalities we look at three activity types in the database and report:
Advancing Hoselines (excluding Wildland)
Search and Rescue

More conflicting information is revealed.  The database for 2018 lists 13 fatalities under Advancing Hoselines but the activity type search lists 12.  The report also lists 12.

Of the 12 from the activity database a total of seven can be counted as interior fatalities.  They are:
1: Pennsylvania. Caught in a collapse of a residential structure
1: Tennessee. Caught in collapse of a residential structure after entering to extinguish hotspots after master stream operations

2: Pennsylvania. Caught in collapse commercial structure under renovation after entering the day after to extinguish hotspots

1: New York. Disoriented in a basement fire in a residential structure being used commercially (movie set)

1: Maryland. Caught in a floor collapse of a residential structure

1: Oklahoma. Caught in a collapse while exiting a residential structure

One fatality is listed under the activity type Search and Rescue.  It is not listed in the report.  That fatality involves the search for a missing boater and this does not count in this question.

One fatality is listed under the activity type Ventilation and one is also listed in the report.  That fatality involves a Massachusetts firefighter who appears to have become overcome during a fire in a residential structure.  An order to withdraw from the structure was made and the victim failed to leave.  A search found him on the second floor.  The narrative and related news reports do not provide specific details and a report has not been released.  It is presumed that the activity type ‘Ventilation’ is assigned to this fatality since the victim was assigned to a ladder company[3]. However, the victim died inside the structure, so in my opinion ‘Search and Rescue’ would be more fitting.

Of the 84/82 on-duty deaths listed for 2018, seven were firefighters who died while inside a burning structure.

Six were killed in various structural collapses.  Five of those involved residential structures.
One died related to disorientation. 

Seven out of 84/82.

Photo courtesy of THEMAJESTIRIUM1 Fireground Footage: Harlem LODD and Five-Alarm Fire


[1] Firefighters Fatalities 2018, United States Fire Administration as of 9 November 2019

[2] Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2018, United States Fire Administration, September 2019

[3] Tragedy Revisits Worcester Fire Department, FirefighterNation 9 December 2018

Published by Data Not Drama

Data Not Drama is writings that provide a point of critical thought about firefighter fatality data and education, line of duty deaths, and risk. The main focus is to encourage less risk aversion and better knowledge on the subject of firefighter fatalities in firefighters, fire departments, and fire service organizations.

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