Career Lieutenant Killed Following a Walkway Collapse While Working to Evacuate a University Student Housing Building—Missouri


FF ShieldDeath in the Line of Duty…A summary of a NIOSH fire fighter fatality investigation

F2014-07 Date Released: January 26, 2015

Executive Summary

On February 22, 2014, a 48-year-old male career lieutenant, attempting to evacuate a student housing building, lost his life after the walkway he was on collapsed. The lieutenant’s department was dispatched for a reported roof collapse at a university student housing complex. The lieutenant arrived first with a crew of two on the department’s snozzle apparatus. The lieutenant advised dispatch that nothing was showing and asked if they could confirm the address. The lieutenant and his fire fighter performed a walk around of Sides A, B, and D and a visual inspection of Side C before ascending a single flight of exterior stairs located on Side D along with a university police officer to access the exterior second-story walkway. The three of them began knocking on doors to speak with the occupants. The lieutenant walked past the other two, who were speaking with occupants through a window, to check on the next apartment. Suddenly, the outer edge of the concrete walkway gave way and the walkway swung down against the building, dropping the lieutenant to the sidewalk. The concrete walkway then broke away from the building and fell flat and upside down onto the sidewalk crushing the lieutenant. Lifesaving measures were immediately started after the lieutenant was extricated from underneath the walkway. The lieutenant was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Contributing Factors

  • Deterioration and collapse of concrete walkway
  • Awareness of the building condition not communicated to the fire department
  • No site pre-planning
  • Inadequate caller information influenced dispatch information provided to responding units
  • Situational awareness.

Key Recommendations

  • Higher education facilities, sovereign entities, and authorities having jurisdiction should develop strategies for the inspection and remediation of student housing complexes and have programs in place to immediately address potential hazards
  • Dispatch centers should ensure that all information taken by a call taker is clearly understood and provided to or simultaneously reviewed by a dispatcher so that all available information is provided to responding emergency personnel.

Read the full reportCdc-pdf

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an institute within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is the federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. In 1998, Congress appropriated funds to NIOSH to conduct a fire fighter initiative that resulted in the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program which examines line-of-duty-deaths or on duty deaths of fire fighters to assist fire departments, fire fighters, the fire service and others to prevent similar fire fighter deaths in the future. The agency does not enforce compliance with State or Federal occupational safety and health standards and does not determine fault or assign blame. Participation of fire departments and individuals in NIOSH investigations is voluntary. Under its program, NIOSH investigators interview persons with knowledge of the incident who agree to be interviewed and review available records to develop a description of the conditions and circumstances leading to the death(s). Interviewees are not asked to sign sworn statements and interviews are not recorded. The agency’s reports do not name the victim, the fire department or those interviewed. The NIOSH report’s summary of the conditions and circumstances surrounding the fatality is intended to provide context to the agency’s recommendations and is not intended to be definitive for purposes of determining any claim or benefit.

For further information, visit the program Web site at www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire or call toll free 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

Page last reviewed: November 18, 2015