Firetruck Accident Statistics

In 2020, an estimated 15,675 fire department vehicles were involved in traffic accidents which resulted in 550 firefighter injuries and 7 fatalities. Over the past decade, 10 road crash fatalities per year have occured on average. 5 Motor vehicle crashes are the second-leading cause of death for on-duty firefighters. 8

Crashes involving firetrucks can occur while driving to an incident, parked at a roadside accident, or returning from an incident. At the scene of roadside accidents, firetrucks block highway lanes to increase safety for first responders.

“71% of U.S. drivers take photos or videos when they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road... Worse still, 16 percent – more than 1 in 10 – said they either have struck or nearly struck a first responder or emergency vehicle stopped on or near the road.”

Firetrucks are commonly used as blockers at roadway accidents to protect emergency response personnel. In 2019, an estimated 16% or 2,500 secondary collisions occured between moving traffic and parked firetrucks positioned as blockers. 6 Studies have found that secondary collisions account for approximately 15% of all collisions & result in 18% of all traffic fatalities nationwide. 12

“Over a five-year period, nine Irving [fire] apparatus were struck while blocking at roadway incidents. Two of those [firetruck] vehicles, including Ladder 52, were totaled. The total time out of service for all the damaged apparatus was 2,018 days (more than 5.5 years), which forced the department to operate with reserve equipment. "

"Hardened Blocking Vehicles for Traffic Incidents and Planned Special Events", Emergency Responder Safety Institute, March 2019.

Using firetrucks as blockers is often a less than ideal solution & may present additional hazards in some situations (i.e. underride hazard to motorists, snag points & pocketing hazard to motorists, rapid deceleration hazard to motorists, debris/shrapnel hazard, and firetruck rollover hazard due to high center of gravity). 16, 17

Secondary collisions between live traffic and firetrucks used as blockers often cause significant apparatus damage & often result in costly repairs and lengthy time out-of-service for repairs. 13, 14, 15 The cost of all emergency vehicle crashes (including fire, police, and ambulance) in the U.S. is estimated to be as much as $35 billion annually. 7

"Emergency responders are trained to be extremely careful and vigilant in transport and when responding to roadside incidents... Despite these precautions, however, the rate of these collisions in recent decades has remained relatively unchanged, with fatal consequences."

Estimated Firetruck Collisions & Injuries (1990-2020) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9

Firefighter Fatalities
in Vehicle Collisions and Struck by Vehicles (1996-2020)
10, 11