Bill Carey of BackstepFirefighter.com has done an excellent job analyzing firefighter deaths during search and rescue operations since 2010 in a 3 part series. What he found was that to date, there were 20 firefighter deaths during “search and rescue” operations. However, 7 of those have been dismissed from this analysis due to their nature of death. That leaves 13 firefighters who died in the line of duty while searching inside a structure that is on fire.
From 2010 to 2015, to date, 20 firefighter on-duty deaths have been recorded under the activity type ‘Search and Rescue’. Of those 20, 13 victims were involved in firefighting operations. To better understand the data presented in the general reporting from the United States Fire Administration, a breakdown of the details is presented. It is important to state that this is to give scrutiny to the data and not to lessen in any way the measure of sacrifice and commitment to service that each fallen firefighter has given. When we probe the material behind our fatalities we gain a better understanding and appreciation of what transpired and are able to make better contributions towards the efforts in reducing firefighter on-duty deaths.
I commend Bill for such a detailed look at these deaths so that we can learn from them in an effort to keep them from happening again. Obviously we have dangerous jobs. We simply cannot remove all danger when we are operating on scene. But maybe we can spare a future incident by learning from the past.
The first part will introduce the data and go into detail on the general numbers as well as the cause and nature of death and the fire buildings. The second part will look at the fires and firefighters in each incident and their related NIOSH investigation reports. The final part will review contrasts between USFA data and NIOSH reports, summarize the findings and present items for further discussion and investigation.
The second part of this three part series looks at the fires and firefighters related to the fatality data in the time period discussed. To refresh, this series is looking at the details in the on-duty death data under the activity type ‘Search and Rescue’ from 2010 to present. Only those that occurred inside a burning structure are being reviewed.
The final part of this series of review of firefighter fatalities looks at contrasts between what is reported as notification of the victims’ deaths and what is later learned from federal and department investigative reports. A look at generalizations on the subject and some cultural fallacies will also help us conclude this series.