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Key Fire Service Facts

Below are quick fire service facts and statistics. For additional information and statistics, view our Fire Service Fact Sheet at www.nvfc.org/hot-topics/statistics-and-fact-sheets.

  • There are 783,300 volunteer firefighters in the U.S., comprising 69% of the nation’s fire service. (NFPA, U.S. Fire Department Profile Through 2012)
  • The majority of fire departments in the United States are volunteer.
    • Of the total 30,100 fire departments in the country, 20,050 are all volunteer; 5,445 are mostly volunteer; 1,995 are mostly career; and 2,610 are all career. (NFPA, U.S. Fire Department Profile Through 2012)
  • Donated time from volunteer firefighters save localities across the country an estimated $139.8 billion per year. (NFPA, The Total Cost of Fire in the United States, 2014)
  • Small and mid-sized communities rely heavily on volunteer firefighters. Communities with a population of under 2,500 rely almost entirely on volunteer departments.
  • The number of volunteer firefighters in the U.S. has declined by 13% since 1984. Major factors contributing to the decline include:
    • Increased time demands to be a firefighter due to increased training requirements, increasing call volumes, and a wider variety of services expected of fire departments.
    • Less time available for individuals to volunteer due to factors such as the proliferation of two-income families and longer commuting distances to work.
    • Change in attitudes among the public such as less focus on volunteering, loss of community pride or feeling that one should give back, employers less willing to let employees off to run calls, etc. (NVFC, Retention & Recruitment in the Volunteer Emergency Services: Challenges and Solutions)
  • While the number of volunteer firefighters is declining, the age of volunteer firefighters is increasing.
  • Fire department call volume has nearly tripled in the last 25 years, mainly due to a sharp increase in the number of EMS calls and false alarms. (NFPA, Fire Loss in the United States 2012)
  • The National Volunteer Fire Council has many programs to address recruitment and retention, including Fire Corps, 1-800-FIRE-LINE, National Junior Firefighter Program, and guides and resources.
  • About half of all firefighter on-duty fatalities are caused by heart attack each year. In 2012, heart attack accounted for 39 of the 81 firefighter line-of-duty deaths. (U.S. Fire Administration, Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2012)
    • The NVFC works to lessen and eliminate preventable fatalities through initiatives such as the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program and the B.E.S.T. Practices for Firefighter Health and Safety.