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Volunteer fire fighter dies while lost in residential structure fire - Alabama.

Wertman-SC; Miles-ST
NIOSH 2009 Jun; :1-31
On October 29, 2008, a 24-year old male volunteer fire fighter (the victim) was fatally injured while fighting a residential structure fire. The victim, one of three fire fighters on scene, entered the residential structure by himself through a carport door with a partially charged 1-in hose line; he became lost in thick black smoke. The victim radioed individuals on the fireground to get him out. Fire fighters were unable to locate the victim after he entered the structure which became engulfed in flames. The victim was caught in a flashover and was unable to escape the fire. Approximately an hour after the victim entered the structure alone, a police officer looking through the kitchen window noticed the victim's hand resting on a kitchen counter; the victim was nine feet from the carport door he had entered. The victim was removed from the structure and pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical services. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include: fire fighters entering a structure fire without adequate training, insufficient manpower, and lack of an established incident command system. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. ensure that fire fighters receive essential training consistent with national consensus standards on structural fire fighting before being allowed to operate at a fire incident; 2. develop, implement, and enforce written standard operating procedures (SOPs) for fireground operations; 3. ensure that fire fighters are trained to follow the two-in/two-out rule and maintain crew integrity at all times; 4. ensure that adequate numbers of apparatus and fire fighters are on scene before initiating an offensive fire attack in a structure fire; 5. ensure that officers and fire fighters know how to evaluate risk versus gain and perform a thorough scene size-up before initiating interior strategies and tactics; 6. develop, implement, and enforce a written incident management system to be followed at all emergency incident operations and ensure that officers and fire fighters are trained on how to implement the incident management system; 7. ensure fire fighters are trained in essential self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and emergency survival skills; 8. ensure that protocols are developed on issuing a Mayday so that fire fighters and dispatch centers know how to respond; 9. ensure that a properly trained incident safety officer (ISO) is established at structure fires; 10. ensure that a rapid intervention team (RIT) is established and available at structure fires; 11. ensure that properly coordinated ventilation is conducted on structure fires; 12.ensure that driver/pump operators receive adequate training to operate and maintain a water supply to hoselines on the fireground; 13. ensure that all fire fighters engaged in fireground activities wear the full array of personal protective equipment (PPE) issued to them; 14. ensure that fire fighters are trained to react to PASS and SCBA low air alarms, and that procedures are developed to properly shut down and secure a SCBA and its PASS device. Additionally, states, municipalities, and authorities having jurisdiction should consider requiring mandatory training for fire fighters.
Region-4; Fire-fighting; Fire-fighters; Fire-hazards; Fire-safety; Accident-prevention; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Emergency-responders; Safety-practices; Work-practices; Training; Fire-fighting-equipment; Self-contained-breathing-apparatus; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health