The Kansas City Star

Fatal Echoes

When fire departments fail to learn from each other’s mistakes, firefighters pay the price.

Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands injured over the last two decades, in incidents that mirrored one another.

The rate of on-duty firefighter deaths and injuries is nearly as high as it was 40 years ago.

In 201 fatalities analyzed by The Kansas City Star 157 firefighters died in unoccupied buildings.

“We allow the same events to occur year after year that lead to firefighter fatalities.”— Austin, Texas, fire captain

In The Star's analysis, only11 died while trying to rescue civilians trapped in a burning structure.

“We know what kills firefighters in fires, and we know how to prevent it. But we keep having firefighters die.”— former president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs
PART 1

In a tragic loop, firefighters continue to die from preventable mistakes

RELATED: A catastrophe in Charleston, and ‘glaring similarities’ later RELATED: Here’s what happens when Fresno forgets about Modesto

20 years of eulogies

The Star's analysis found common factors in firefighter deaths.

Click to explore the data
PART 2

They protect us.
Who protects them?

PART 3

Fighting a culture that saves — and costs — lives

RELATED: Improvements often follow disaster in Kansas City
AFTER THE SERIES

Leaders urge ‘concerted effort’ to save firefighters’ lives