USFA releases annual firefighter fatality reports that consistently show heart attacks as the leading cause of death. In fact, over the last decade, over half (54.5 percent) of on-duty volunteer firefighter deaths were the result of a heart attack (USFA, n.d.).
Heart to Heart
The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) hosted a conference in Washington, D.C. in December 2015, to address cardiovascular disease in the fire service. This meeting was attended by more than 60 representatives of fire service constituency organizations, fire departments, and subject matter experts representing different fields of research associated with occupational health and cardiovascular health. Leading subject matter experts presented the current state of the science regarding heart disease-related death and disability in the fire service. These experts then worked together with fire service leaders in a consensus-building framework to identify recommendations to lessen cardiovascular events and to identify ways to transition scientific findings and best practices to the fire service with the goal of increasing adoption of best practices for cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and treatment.