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Two career fire fighters die after falling from elevated aerial platform - Texas.

Merinar-T; Peters-W
NIOSH 2009 Jul; :1-31
On January 25, 2009, two male career fire fighters, age 28 (Victim #1) and age 45 (Victim #2), died after falling from an elevated aerial platform during a training exercise in Texas. The fire fighters were participating in the exercise to familiarize fire department personnel with a newly purchased 95-foot mid-mount aerial platform truck. A group of four fire fighters were standing in the aerial platform which was raised to the roof of an eight-story dormitory building at a local college. The platform became stuck on the concrete parapet wall at the top of the building. During attempts to free the platform, the top edge of the parapet wall gave way and the aerial ladder sprung back from the top of the building, then began to whip violently back and forth. Two of the four fire fighters standing in the platform were ejected from the platform by the motion. They fell approximately 83 feet to the ground and died from their injuries. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include the fire fighters being unfamiliar with the controls on the newly purchased aerial platform truck, training in a "high risk" scenario before becoming familiar with new equipment, failure to use fall restraints, the design of the platform railing and integrated doors, and the location of the lifting eyes underneath the platform which contributed to the platform snagging on the building's parapet wall. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. Ensure fire fighters are fully familiar with new equipment before training under "high risk scenarios." 2. Ensure fall protection is used whenever fire fighters and other personnel are working in elevated aerial platforms. 3. Follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) for training, including the designation of a safety officer. 4. Ensure SOPs covering the operation and use of fire apparatus (including aerial platform apparatus) are developed and followed during training exercises as well as in fire suppression activities. 5. Fire apparatus manufacturers should: 1. Provide fall protection belts with all aerial ladder and platform apparatus and ensure that fall protection is used during manufacturer-provided training. 2. Ensure that aerial platforms and other aerial devices are designed to reduce or eliminate the potential for snagging on buildings or other elevated surfaces. 3. Ensure aerial platform doors or gates are designed to prevent opening in the outward direction.
Region-6; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Injury-prevention; Accident-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Emergency-responders; Fire-fighting-equipment; Accidents; Injuries; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Equipment-design; Equipment-operators; Training; 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