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Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies from Injuries Sustained at a Residential Structure Fire – New York


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

F2014-26 Date Released: December 30, 2016

Executive Summary

On December 19, 2014, a 42-year-old, male, volunteer fire fighter was injured at a residential structure fire and died 4 days later at a metropolitan trauma center. At 0408 hours, Truck 313 was dispatched to a working residential structure fire as the third-due truck company. Truck 313 responded at 0414 hours and arrived on-scene at 0420 hours. The crew of Truck 313 was five fire fighters including an acting officer. The chauffeur of Truck 313 stayed with the apparatus. The crew of Truck 313 was assigned as the RIC/FAST company, but the assistant chief from Fire Department 310 advised Command Truck 313 didn’t have the tools for that assignment. Command advised them to use the tools on Ladder 352 for the RIC/FAST assignment. Truck 313 proceeded to Side 3 (Side Charlie) and entered the house without leaving their personnel accountability tags with Command. Note: The fire departments involved in this incident define the sides of a structure by number [e.g., Side 1 (front of the building), Side 2, Side 3, and Side 4] instead of the phonetic alphabet (e.g., Side Alpha, Side Bravo, Side Charlie, and Side Delta). The Truck 313 outside vent man (OVM) had an issue with his SCBA, notified the Truck 313 acting officer, and returned to Truck 313 for another SCBA. The Truck 313 acting officer assigned the probationary fire fighter riding on Truck 313 to stay at the rear sliding glass door on Side Charlie. The Truck 313 acting officer and the Truck 313 Irons fire fighter proceeded into the house with Engine 304. Truck 313 was going to conduct a search of the first floor. The Truck 313 acting officer assumed that the Truck 313 Irons fire fighter was still behind him in addition to three or four other fire fighters who were behind him. The Truck 313 acting officer got to the entrance of the dining room and met a chief from a mutual aid department. The chief advised the Truck 313 acting officer that the dining room floor on Side Alpha/Bravo had collapsed and not to enter the room. The Truck 313 acting officer met the Ladder 325 officer in the hallway and also Truck 313 OVM fire fighter, who had returned to the interior of the house. The Truck 313 acting officer and Truck 313 OVM went to the second floor to conduct a search. At this point, the location of Truck 313 Irons fire fighter was unknown. Truck 313 went by a hole in the front foyer (caused by the fire), which the initial fire attack crews had discovered when they entered the front door. After they searched the second floor, they returned to the first floor. As Truck 313 got to the first floor, a Mayday was transmitted from the basement by the Engine 304 officer for a “fire fighter down.” The Truck 313 Irons fire fighter was found face down in several inches of water. The fire fighter was removed from the basement in cardiac arrest and transported to a local hospital by Ambulance 3591. After extensive resuscitation efforts, the medic crew of Ambulance 3591 was able to restore a heartbeat in the hospital. The fire fighter was later transported to a trauma center but died on December 23, 2014.

Contributing Factors

  • Combustible materials left in hallway of home under renovation
  • Lack of crew integrity
  • Ineffective span of control
  • Ineffective personnel accountability system
  • Lack of assigned rapid intervention crew (RIC) or fire fighter assist and search team (FAST)
  • Lack of training between automatic aid fire departments
  • Hole in the first-floor foyer from the fire


Key Recommendations

  • Fire departments should ensure that crew integrity is maintained when operating in an immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) atmosphere
  • Fire departments should review their personnel accountability system standard operating procedure/guideline to ensure that the system is staffed, functions properly, and all resources are accounted for at an incident.
  • Fire departments should ensure that the incident commander establishes a dedicated rapid intervention crew(s) (RIC) and that the RIC is available throughout the incident.


Read the full report