January 2019 On-Duty Deaths

The following information is a breakdown of the details of those members in the fire service who died while operating ‘on-duty’ as defined by the United States Fire Administration. For more information on this definition and that of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s definition of ‘line of duty death’ read “On Duty & Line of Duty: What Is the Difference?” The information presented is not meant to distract from the emotional toll felt by the families and coworkers. It is instead meant to remind us to look greater at the record of fatalities and in comparison, to previous years as well as be a measure of substance when used in discussions.

It is always important to reiterate that the discussion of the details in the reporting of these deaths is not meant to diminish the loss. Each number is a person mourned by a family, friends and coworkers. What is intended in this and related writing is that it is important for the fire service to be aware of the details in our on-duty death numbers. Blindly saying that 100 or so firefighters die each year, as well as saying ‘we’ve lost too many’ each time a fatality occurs is turning a blind eye to the data. By understanding the details in the recording, we can be more aware of trends, both good and bad, in our efforts to reduce these fatalities.

The first on-duty death of 2019 occurred on 5 January in Iowa. The victim, a 33-year-old career lieutenant [1], was part of an on-coming crew at a fire in a storage silo. An explosion had occurred approximately three hours after the incident had begun [2]. The victim’s fire chief had told local reporters that they believed the scene was somewhat stabilized as crews began their shift exchange [3]. One other firefighter was severely injured in the explosion. The two were one top of the silo flowing water when the explosion occurred [4].

The second on-duty death of the month came the next day in New York City. On 6 January a 30-year-old Probationary Firefighter fell through the space between to overpass bridges and plummeted 52 feet to his death [5]. The victim had been making his way toward a motor vehicle accident when he fell [6]. He had only been a firefighter for a year and a half.

Among the Januarys of previous years, 2019 has seen the smallest number of on-duty deaths. The next closest was three fatalities in January of 2013. Since 1990 has there not been a year with such a low number in January as there has been this year.

Data in Detail (January 2019)
(Number in parentheses is YTD as of posting)

Deaths involving Disorientation: 0

Deaths involving Flashover, Backdraft, Explosive Incident: 0

Deaths Involving Residential Structural Collapse during Fire: 0

    Victim inside Structure: 0
    Victim outside Structure: 0

Deaths Involving Commercial Structural Collapse during Fire: 0* (* see Cause of Death, Collapse)

    Victim inside Structure: 0    

    Victim outside Structure: 0* (* see Cause of Death, Collapse)

Deaths in 1- and 2-Family Dwellings: 0

Deaths in Multi-Family Dwellings: 0

Deaths in Educational, Institutional, Commercial and Industrial Occupancies: 1

    1: storage silo

Deaths in Abandoned Structures: 0

Multi-Fatality Incidents: 0


Nature of Death

Asphyxiation: 0

Blank: 0 

Burns: 0

Cerebrovascular Accident: 0

Crushed: 0

Drowning: 0

Electrocution: 0

Exposure: 0

Heart Attack: 0

Not Stated: 0

Other: 0

Trauma: 2

Unknown: 0

Violence: 0


Cause of Death

Assault: 0

Blank: 0

Caught/Trapped: 0

Collapse: 1

    Residential: 0

        Interior: 0

        Exterior: 0

    Commercial: 1

        Interior: 0

        Exterior: 1

            Wall: 0

            Roof: 0

            Other: 1 (grain silo explosion)

Contact With: 0

Exposure: 0

Fall: 1

Lost: 0

Other: 0

Out of Air: 0

Stress/Overexertion: 0

Struck by: 0

Trauma: 0

Vehicle Collision: 0

Unknown: 0


Average Age: 31

Youngest: 30

Oldest: 33

Firefighters 65 years old or older at time of death: 0

Volunteer firefighter 19-years old or younger who died responding to alarm or station: 0


Volunteer: 0

Career: 2

    Paid on Call: 0



County Fire Coordinator: 0
Fire Chief: 0
Deputy Chief: 0
Assistant Chief: 0
Battalion Chief: 0
Major: 0
Captain: 0
Lieutenant: 1
Sergeant: 0
Safety Officer: 0
Fire Crew Supervisor: 0
Firefighter: 1
    Probationary: 1
Firefighter/Ranger/Wildfire Contracted: 0
Pilot: 0
Recruit/Trainee: 0
Driver/Operator/Engineer: 0
Fire-Police: 0
Fire Marshal: 0
Department of Defense: 0
Chaplain: 0
Wildland Full-Time: 0
Wildland Part-Time: 0

Deaths Involving Lack of Seatbelt Use: 0

Deaths Involving Apparatus Accidents: 0

Fireground Assignment/Activity at Time of Death

Incident Command: 0
Fire Attack: 1
    Advancing Hoseline: 1
        1: Victim caught in grain silo explosion; part of relief crew three hours into the incident 

Search: 0
Ventilation (Roof): 0

Deaths where occupants were known to be out of fire structure: 0

Extrication: 1
Pump Operations: 0
Water Supply: 0
Overhaul/Salvage: 0
On Scene: 0
Scene Safety: 0
Support: 0
EMS/Patient Care: 0

Death As a Result of EMS Exposure: 0

Vehicle Collision/Driving/Operating (Riding) Vehicle/Apparatus: 0
    Personal Vehicle: 0
        Responding: 0
        Returning: 0
    Department Apparatus/Vehicle: 0
        Emergency Response: 0
        Non-emergency Response: 0  

Deaths Which Occurred During Training: 0

Department of Defense, Military fire-service LODDs: 0

Deaths Linked to 11 September 2001: 0

Deaths Which Occurred Outside the “Traditional” Line of Duty Definition: 0

1. Eric M. Hosette, Lieutenant, USFA
2. Iowa Community Mourns Firefighter Killed in Explosion; Injured Firefighter Improving, FirefighterNation.com
3. Clinton firefighter dies in explosion at ADM plant, The Gazette
4. “I want to carry his flame,” injured Clinton firefighter motivated to get back to work to honor fallen Lt. Eric Hosette, WQAD
5. Steven H. Pollard, Firefighter, USFA
6. FDNY Firefighter Dies after Falling Off Bridge, FirefighterNation.com

Clarion UX