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Career Fire Lieutenant Killed By Roof/Ceiling Collapse During Overhaul – Georgia


FF ShieldDeath in the Line of Duty…A report from the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

F2013-27 Date Released: December 22, 2016

Executive Summary

On December 15, 2013, a 50-year-old male career fire lieutenant died after being struck by a roof and ceiling collapse during overhaul of a vacant residential structural fire. The lieutenant was one of two fire fighters that had re-entered the structure to extinguish hot spots during overhaul. Fire fighters had been on scene for 1½–1¾ hours and had knocked down the majority of the fire. The lieutenant and the other fire fighter re-entered the house to perform overhaul and a ceiling and part of the roof assembly collapsed on them. One fire fighter was able to escape but the lieutenant was trapped under the ceiling assembly and had to be extricated. Fire fighters performed emergency resuscitation procedures inside the structure and then Advanced Life Support (ALS) procedures. He was removed from the structure and transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Contributing Factors

  • Arson
  • Extensive fire in a vacant building
  • Risk-versus-gain analysis prior to committing to interior operations involving a vacant/abandoned structure
  • Strategic mode changes and personnel accountability
  • Situational awareness as related to expected building performance under fire conditions
  • Lack of a safety officer
  • Structure not demolished in timely manner.


Key Recommendations

  • Fire departments should ensure that incident commanders conduct a risk-versus-gain analysis prior to committing to interior operations in vacant/abandoned structures and continue the assessment throughout the operations.
  • Fire departments should develop, implement, and enforce clear procedures for strategic mode changes and ensure personnel accountability is maintained.
  • Fire departments should ensure that fire fighters are trained in situational awareness as related to expected building performance under fire conditions.
  • Fire departments should ensure that a safety officer, independent from the incident commander, is appointed at working structure fires.
  • Fire departments should incorporate principles of command safety into the incident management system when strategic mode changes occur, and incident commanders should maintain accountability of all assigned resources.
  • Fire departments should ensure standard operating procedures (SOPs) are developed for fighting fires in vacant/abandoned buildings and consider an unsafe building marking system as part of an overall program to address fighting fires in these buildings.
  • Municipalities and local authorities having jurisdiction should consider developing strategies for the prevention of and the remediation (demolition) of vacant/abandoned structures and for arson prevention.


Read the full report