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Fire fighter fatalities 1998–2001: overview with an emphasis on structure related traumatic fatalities
  1. T K Hodous,
  2. T J Pizatella,
  3. R Braddee,
  4. D N Castillo
  1. Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  1. Correspondence to:
 T J Pizatella
 NIOSH, Division of Safety Research, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA;


Objective: To review the causes of all fire fighter line-of-duty-deaths from 1998 through 2001, and present recommendations for preventing fatalities within the specific subgroup of structure related events.

Methods: Fire fighter fatality data from the United States Fire Administration were reviewed and classified into three main categories of injury. Investigations conducted through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program provided the basis for the recommendations presented in this paper.

Results: During the time period from 1998–2001, there were 410 line-of-duty deaths among fire fighters in the United States, excluding the 343 fire fighters who died at the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. The 410 fatalities included 191 medical (non-traumatic) deaths (47%), 75 motor vehicle related fatalities (18%), and 144 other traumatic fatalities (35%). The latter group included 68 fatalities that were associated with structures which commonly involved structural collapse, rapid fire progression, and trapped fire fighters.

Conclusions: Structural fires pose particular hazards to fire fighters. Additional efforts must be directed to more effectively use what we have learned through the NIOSH investigations and recommendations from published experts in the safety community, consensus standards, and national fire safety organizations to reduce fire fighter fatalities during structural fire fighting.

  • FFFIPP, Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program
  • NIOSH, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
  • SOPs, standard operating procedures
  • USFA, United States Fire Administration
  • fire fighters
  • fatalities
  • occupational injury
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  • * Further information about the NIOSH FFFIPP, including all investigative reports, can be found on the NIOSH web page:

  • Flashover is one form of rapid and potentially fatal fire progression that can create temperatures over 1000°F.

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