“While the number of on-duty deaths for America’s fire service in 2007 did not see a dramatic change, the number of wildland firefighter deaths dropped by almost two-thirds.
Experts say a new set of tactics — based on safety — may be the reason for the decline.
Jim Smalley, manager of the NFPA Wildland Fire Protection Division, believes that the reduction stems from a major change in tactics following recent fires that took the lives of multiple firefighters.
Citing the 2006 Esperanza Fire that claimed four firefighters and the Thirty-Mile fire in 2001 that killed four, he said there has been a reduction in night firefighting operations.
“Night firefighting is very infrequent now” Smalley said. “They have gone from doctrinal principles and they do what’s right and do what’s safest while effectively doing their jobs.”
Smalley believes that other changes over the last five years, including the reduction on the deployment from 21 days to 14 days, advances in firefighter hydration and the overall length of the work day, are advancing the firefighter safety measures.
While 2007 saw the second highest number of structural firefighter deaths in 10 years, the number of wildland deaths was the lowest in 10 years, with only three. The average had been 10.
The NFPA Report Shows:
* Of the 102 fatalities in 2007, 53 were volunteers, 42 career and five were employees of the federal or state land management agencies. One was a contractor to the land management agencies and served on an industrial fire brigade.
* Fire ground actions 35 percent
* Responding and returning to alarms, 29 percent
* Training deaths, 13 percent with seven percent being non-fire emergencies.
* Sixteen percent of deaths were categorized as “other on-duty.” Those include 11 that occurred during station duties, two during community event preparations, one returning from a prescribed burn, one while preparing for a parade and one while flagging a fire line at a construction project. “
The above is from Firehouse.com. To read the entire article click here.