By Bill Carey
1 February 2023
The work involving breaking down the numbers of interior line of duty deaths each year continues. The latest entry into the site is from 2016. That year there were a total of 92 on-duty firefighter deaths as defined and listed by the United States Fire Administration (USFA) as of 1 February 2023.
For providing specific data, I define interior deaths as those on the fireground that are traumatic versus those that are medical in the same way the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program differentiates the two. Since the majority of discussion and writing about interior deaths focus on the specific interior and up close work (advancing hoselines, searching for occupants, and vertical ventilation) I may include deaths where the victim was working on the ground outside of the structure but close enough to have been killed in a collapse or explosion.
Six of the 92 deaths from 2016 are counted as interior deaths and including two that suffered traumatic death outside of a burning structure. These two involved chief officers on the scene of a fire and a gas leak.
On 10 September 2015, a Wyoming deputy chief fell through the ceiling of a ground-level bunker during a grass and structure fire. He suffered second and third-degree burns and other injuries and died on 13 January 2016.
On 27 September 2016, an FDNY battalion chief was struck and killed by debris after an explosion of a residential structure. Companies were on the scene dealing with the natural gas leak in what was determined to be a marijuana grow house.
Two firefighters in this data are listed as Advancing Hoselines. One is a firefighter in North Carolina who become disoriented while fighting a fire in a strip mall. The victim was low on air and panicked while trying to follow the hoseline to the outside. The other is one of three Delaware firefighters killed while fighting a fire in a rowhome. It is interesting to note that despite the activity type, the USFA narrative and the NIOSH report state that the victim had entered the structure as the Rapid Intervention Team to locate and rescue the two firefighters caught in the first collapse when he was killed in a second collapse. Additional information states that after the first collapse, the victim and another firefighter were assigned by Command to Side Charlie and entered the basement to look for firefighters.
* It is my opinion based on the investigation report that this firefighter’s activity type should be changed from Advancing Hoselines to Search and Rescue.
Search and Rescue
Under the Activity Type Search and Rescue are the other Delaware firefighters killed in the collapse. Their activity type is likely due to the dispatch information that included possible entrapment. The incident commander spoke with the owner that stated that all occupants were out.
There were no firefighter fatalities involving vertical ventilation in 2016.
This information is subject to change based on changes from the USFA.
- Carey, B. (2022, January 15) On Duty & Line of Duty: What Is the Difference? Data Not Drama https://data-not-drama.com/2022/01/15/on-duty-line-of-duty-what-is-the-difference/
- (Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, n.d.) Fatality Types. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Retrieved January 7, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/abouttheprogram/abouttheprogram.html
- (Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program, n.d.) Arson Fire Kills Three Fire Fighters and Injures Four Fire Fighters Following a Floor Collapse in a Row House—Delaware. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face201618.pdf p.17.
- Ibid. p.25.
- Ibid. p23.
Photograph courtesy of Unsplash.