Firetruck Accident Statistics
"An average of 12,200 roadway responses occur every day in the United States, where responders are under the threat of everyday drivers hitting, clipping, or colliding with them as they drive by."
In 2022, vehicles struck and killed 50 emergency responders working at various types of roadway incidents (including Law Enforcement Officers, Fire/EMS, Tow Operators, Road Service Technicians, and DOT Safety Patrol personnel). 21
An estimated 15,675 fire department vehicles were involved in traffic accidents which resulted in 550 firefighter injuries and 7 firefighter fatalities in 2020. 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
"Protect their lives so they're there to save yours."
Traffic accidents involving firetrucks can occur while driving to an incident, parked at a roadside accident scene, or returning from an incident. At the scene of roadside accidents, firetrucks block highway lanes to increase safety for emergency responders.
Firetrucks are commonly used as blockers at roadway accidents to protect emergency responders. In 2019, an estimated 2,500 vehicles crashed into firetrucks parked as blockers (6.8 crashes every day or 16% of all firetruck collisions). 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. "
“In the neighboring city, Dallas Fire Rescue (DFR) implemented the blocker program after determining that fire apparatus were struck 62 times over a three-year period.”
Using firetrucks as blockers is often suboptimal & 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, firetruck roll-forward/skid-forward hazard if insufficiently weighted, and firetruck rollover hazard due to high center of gravity). 15, 16, 22, 23 In addition, using older firetrucks as blockers is often suboptimal because older firetrucks may have higher maintenance costs & older firetrucks may still have substantial resell value. 20
Secondary collisions between live traffic and firetrucks used as blockers often cause significant damage requiring costly repairs and lengthy time out-of-service for repairs. 17, 18, 19, 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
“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.”
"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."
"Our emergency responders deserve the highest levels of protection as they grapple with situations that are not only tactically difficult but also emotionally taxing."
Estimated Firetruck Collisions & Injuries (1990-2020)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9
Emergency Responder Struck-By-Vehicle Fatalities