National Fire Department Census Quick Facts

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Figure 1

Percentage of Registered Fire Departments by Region (January 2012)

Fire Departments Registered

The National Fire Department Census is a voluntary program and does not include all fire departments in the United States or its territories. As of January 2012, there were 26,482 fire departments registered with the census. This is about 88 percent of the departments estimated to be in the United States. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimated there were 30,125 fire departments in the United States in 2010.

Fire Departments by Region

The majority of the registered departments are located in the southern and midwestern states. Figure 1 shows the percentage distribution of fire departments by U.S. Census Bureau Region. Only 11 of the registered fire departments are located in U.S. territories.

The regions of the United States are defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont); South (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia); Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin); and West (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming).

Fire Departments by State

Table 1 shows the number of fire departments registered with the census by State.

Table 1. Number of Registered Fire Departments by State (January 2012)
(includes the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories)

State Count
Alabama 796
Alaska 145
Arizona 249
Arkansas 672
California 835
Colorado 325
Connecticut 245
Delaware 58
District of Columbia 3
Florida 477
Georgia 461
Hawaii 11
Idaho 181
Illinois 1,081
Indiana 761
Iowa 731
Kansas 467
Kentucky 676
Louisiana 378
Maine 338
Maryland 263
Massachusetts 359
Michigan 944
Minnesota 714
Mississippi 414
Missouri 731
Montana 263
Nebraska 372
Nevada 85
New Hampshire 209
New Jersey 689
New Mexico 242
New York 1,610
North Carolina 1,016
North Dakota 302
Ohio 1,143
Oklahoma 709
Oregon 297
Pennsylvania 1,800
Rhode Island 72
South Carolina 433
South Dakota 282
Tennessee 615
Texas 1,435
Utah 187
Vermont 194
Virginia 521
Washington 402
West Virginia 396
Wisconsin 764
Wyoming 108
U.S. Territories 11

Stations

The fire departments registered with the census represent approximately 48,800 fire stations across the country. Seventy percent of the departments have one station, 16 percent have two stations, and the remaining 14 percent have three or more stations.

For counties in Maryland, Nevada, and Virginia where it is known that both the county level fire department registered with the census and the individual fire departments affiliated with that county department also registered, the computation of the number of stations includes only the number of stations reported by the county level department to avoid double counting stations.

Organization Type

The majority (96 percent) of the registered departments are local fire departments which include career, combination, and volunteer fire departments and fire districts. The remaining four percent are comprised of State and Federal government fire departments, contract fire departments, private or industrial fire brigades, and transportation authority or airport fire departments.

Personnel

The fire departments registered with the census are staffed by approximately 1,190,000 personnel. This figure includes career, volunteer, and paid per call firefighters as well as civilian staff and nonfirefighting personnel. There were a total of 1,044,300 active career, volunteer, and paid per call firefighters representing nearly 88 percent of the registered departments' personnel.

There were 123 fire departments that did not provide the number of personnel. For counties in Maryland, Nevada, and Virginia where it is known that both the County level fire department registered with the census and the individual fire departments affiliated with that County department also registered, the computation of the number of personnel includes only the personnel counts reported by the County level department to avoid double counting personnel.

Department Type

The department type is based on the NFPA definition (Career: 100 percent of a department's firefighters are career; Mostly Career: 51-99 percent of a department's firefighters are career; Mostly Volunteer: 1-50 percent of a department's firefighters are career; Volunteer: 100 percent of a department's firefighters are volunteer). Of the fire departments registered with the census,

The numbers of fire department personnel are used to determine the department type. There were 123 fire departments that did not provide the number of personnel. These departments were excluded from this analysis.

Department Type by State

Table 2 shows the percentage of fire departments registered with the census by department type within each state. The department type is based on NFPA definitions.

Table 2. Percentage of Registered Fire Departments by Department Type Within Each State (January 2012)

State Volunteer Mostly Volunteer Mostly Career Career
Alabama 80.8 8.6 3.2 7.5
Alaska 58.7 30.8 0.7 9.8
Arizona 32.5 26.8 17.5 23.2
Arkansas 85.0 8.6 3.0 3.4
California 28.7 29.9 16.3 25.1
Colorado 49.2 31.4 7.7 11.7
Connecticut 62.0 23.3 3.3 11.4
Delaware 50.0 48.3 0.0 1.7
District of Columbia 0.0 0.0 33.3 66.7
Florida 35.1 14.5 17.4 33.0
Georgia 52.0 25.1 8.1 14.8
Hawaii 9.1 0.0 18.2 72.7
Idaho 57.8 32.2 3.9 6.1
Illinois 66.8 14.6 6.7 11.8
Indiana 74.9 13.8 2.8 8.6
Iowa 90.7 5.5 0.6 3.3
Kansas 77.9 11.6 4.3 6.2
Kentucky 75.6 16.1 3.3 5.1
Louisiana 49.2 37.8 4.0 9.0
Maine 73.7 21.0 2.7 2.7
Maryland 60.3 28.2 4.6 6.9
Massachusetts 26.8 29.1 17.3 26.8
Michigan 65.8 21.0 3.8 9.3
Minnesota 87.7 9.6 0.9 1.8
Mississippi 71.0 15.7 3.9 9.4
Missouri 71.8 13.6 5.0 9.6
Montana 84.8 9.5 1.1 4.6
Nebraska 92.7 3.8 1.4 2.2
Nevada 55.4 24.1 8.4 12.1
New Hampshire 55.3 31.3 9.1 4.3
New Jersey 75.4 13.7 3.5 7.3
New Mexico 78.8 10.4 3.7 7.1
New York 89.9 4.7 1.1 4.3
North Carolina 63.0 28.3 4.1 4.5
North Dakota 92.4 4.7 0.0 3.0
Ohio 62.0 21.4 5.4 11.2
Oklahoma 81.5 9.8 2.3 6.4
Oregon 44.1 45.8 4.4 5.7
Pennsylvania 90.1 6.9 0.5 2.5
Rhode Island 35.2 23.9 11.3 29.6
South Carolina 57.3 27.3 8.6 6.8
South Dakota 92.5 4.3 0.4 2.9
Tennessee 75.0 12.7 5.9 6.4
Texas 71.9 13.7 4.5 9.9
Utah 67.4 19.6 5.4 7.6
Vermont 89.1 7.8 2.1 1.0
Virginia 74.7 15.1 3.7 6.6
Washington 42.3 37.8 8.5 11.5
West Virginia 91.3 4.1 1.5 3.1
Wisconsin 80.4 12.7 1.6 5.4
Wyoming 73.2 14.8 1.0 11.1
U.S. Territories 9.1 0.0 18.2 72.7
Total 71.2 16.0 4.5 8.3

  1. State totals may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding.
  2. Excludes 123 departments that did not provide the number of personnel.

Department Type by State

Figures 2 and 3 show the top 25 states in rank order by the percentage of volunteer and career fire departments.

Figure 2. Percentage of Registered Volunteer and Mostly Volunteer Fire Departments
Top 25 States by Rank (January 2012)

Fire departments that did not provide the number of personnel were excluded from this analysis.

Figure 3. Percentage of Registered Career and Mostly Career Fire Departments
Top 25 States by Rank (January 2012)

Fire departments that did not provide the number of personnel were excluded from this analysis.

Specialized Services

Table 3 shows the percentage of registered fire departments that indicated providing a particular specialized service. The leading specialized services provided include vehicle extrication (75 percent), fire/injury prevention and public education (60 percent), wildfire/urban-wildland interface (60 percent), and basic life support services (57 percent). Only four percent of registered departments have fireboat service capabilities. Of the departments that provide fire investigation/fire cause determination services, 16 percent have sworn investigators with power to arrest.

Table 3. Percentage of Fire Departments Providing Specialized Services (January 2012)

Specialized Services Provided Percentage
Vehicle Extrication 74.5
Fire/Injury Prevention/Public Education 59.9
Wildfire/Urban-Wildland Interface 59.6
Basic Life Support 57.0
EMS Non-Transport Response 37.1
Fire Investigation/Fire Cause Determination 34.3
Fire Inspection/Code Enforcement 34.2
Technical/Specialized Rescue 33.4
Departmental (in-house) Training Academy 22.6
EMS Ambulance Transport 20.5
Advanced Life Support 20.4
HAZMAT Team 17.4
Juvenile Firesetter Intervention Program 13.6
Airport/Aviation 7.6
Fireboat 3.9

Percentage of Fire Departments Providing Specialized Services by State (January 2012)

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