Volunteer Firefighters

Monday, Jan 03, 2011

In 2006, of the total estimated 1,140,900 firefighters across the country, 823,950 were volunteer (72%). Of the total 30,635 fire departments in the country, 21,449 were all volunteer (70%). [86% were at least mostly volunteer.] Services contributed by volunteer firefighters saved localities across the country an estimated $37.2 billion.

There are very few purely paid fire departments in the United States, but those that exist are primarily found in very urban areas.

In 2006, there were 24,470,000 calls for U.S. Fire Departments. Most of the increase [in calls] is attributed to a sharp increase in the number of emergency medical calls and false alarms. The number of fire calls has actually declined over the period [since 1986]. 68 of the 118 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2007 were volunteers. The leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters was stress/overexertion, resulting in 55 deaths. Of these, 52 were caused by heart attack. The second leading cause of death was vehicle crashes, claiming 27 firefighters.

In 2007, there were 3,430 civilians that lost their lives as the result of fire. There were an estimated 1.6 million fires. Direct property loss due to fires was estimated at $14.6 billion.

Fact Sheet, National Volunteer Fire Council, October 23, 2008, http://www.nvfc.org/files/documents/NVFCStatsandFactsSheet1008.pdf.