Sobering fire statistics

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The news sounded devastating at first — a wall collapse at the scene of a fire on Monday morning that trapped one of Suffolk’s firefighters in the conflagration.

The mayday call went out, and all efforts focused on bringing her out of the blaze alive. We were pleased to be able to report not too long after the incident that the firefighter was rescued by her comrades from the blaze at a home on Five Mile Road.

Another firefighter was injured in the rescue effort, but for now, it sounds like both are recovering at home, although the firefighter who was initially trapped does require further treatment.

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In spite of the many advancements in technology that help keep firefighters safe from the elements they battle, it remains a dangerous profession. So far in 2019, seven firefighters have died in the line of duty, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. They hailed from Iowa, New York, Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts, Maine and Illinois.

Of those, three died of medical emergencies during or immediately after responding to calls. Two others were from an explosion and a fall.

The most recent two — Capt. Jacob Ringering of Godfrey Fire Protection District in Illinois and Capt. Joel Barnes of Berwick Fire Department in Maine — were from entrapments on fire calls.

In 2018, 86 firefighters nationwide died in the line of duty. That’s about one every four days.

Since Jan. 1, 1990, about 3,339 firefighters have lost their lives to line-of-duty incidents.

As we approach budget season, Monday’s blaze and the sobering statistics above are good reminders that the most up-to-date safety equipment, training and other resources — including adequate staffing levels — for public safety departments is always a sound investment and should always be given top priority.