According to NFPA's recently released U.S. Firefighter Fatalities report, a total of 68 firefighters died while on duty in the United States in 2015, representing the fourth time in the past five years that the total number of deaths has been below 70. The number of volunteer firefighter deaths was the second lowest total every reported (32 deaths).
The largest share of firefighter deaths occurred while firefighters were operating at fires (24 deaths), accounting for just over one-third of the on-duty deaths last year. This is the fourth time in the last six years that the total has been fewer than 25 deaths.
Overexertion, stress and medical issues accounted for by far the largest share of firefighter deaths. Of the 40 deaths in this category, 35 were classified as sudden cardiac deaths, usually heart attacks, with onset while the victim was on duty. This reflects only one less death than the 2014 total, reinforcing last year's findings, which showed that the general downward trend in on-duty sudden cardiac deaths since 2007 has stopped. Cardiac-related events accounted for 51 percent of the deaths in 2015, and 42 percent of the deaths over the past 10 years.
For an in-depth overview of the report's findings, read the NFPA Journal article, "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States, 2015".