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Two Fire Fighters Die and Two Fire Fighters are Injured at Multi- occupancy Fire with Structural Collapse – Missouri

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

F2015-15 Date Released: July 10, 2017

Executive Summary

On October 12, 2015, a 39-year-old fire fighter from Pumper 10 and a 43-year-old fire fighter from Truck 2 died due to a structural collapse during a fire in a multi-occupancy structure. A regular alarm was dispatched for a structure fire in a multi-occupancy building at 1927 hours. Pumper 10 was the first unit on-scene at 1929 hours and reported a “working fire” with smoke showing. A “working fire” dispatch was transmitted at 1930 hours. Pumper 10 moved into the alley on Side Delta. Pumper 10 (officer and two fire fighters) stretched a 1¾-inch handline to the 1st floor of the building on Side Charlie. The officer of Pumper 10 realized the fire was in the floor joists. Note: The ground floor of the building contained various commercial occupancies. The 2nd and 3rd floors were apartments. At 1931 hours, Command (Battalion 104) advised, “Heavy smoke on all three floors.” Note: The captain (district safety officer) assigned to Battalion 104 was working out of classification (WOC) as Battalion 104. Another captain was assigned as the Battalion 104 district safety officer. Command requested a 2nd Alarm at 1944 hours. Truck 2 responded on the 2nd Alarm at 1945 hours. Truck 2 arrived on-scene at 1945 hours. A fire fighter from Truck 2 went to the roof of the fire building with Truck 10 to ventilate the roof. After the roof was vented, the fire fighters from Truck 2 and Truck 10 came off the roof. At 1949 hours, an evacuation order was sounded that ordered all fire fighters out of the building. Command conducted a personnel accountibility report to ensure all crews were accounted for and out of the building. Command announced the strategy was changing from offensive operations to defensive operations. Also, Command advised to have a collapse zone established around the entire building. Pumper 10, Pumper 23, Truck 3, Truck 6, and Rescue 1 exited the apartment building on Side Alpha and Side Charlie. Crews on Side Charlie pulled the hoselines out of the building. The captain from Pumper 10 pulled a 1¾-inch hoseline to Side Delta (the alley) behind Pumper 23. A fire fighter from Truck 2 went into the alley (Side Delta) and started to take out windows. The fire fighter from Truck 2 was pulling on a ventilation fan located in a window of a vacant bar to gain acces to the fire. Crews operating on the exterior of Side Alpha and Side Charlie witnessed an interior collapse of the 2nd floor. On Side Delta, two fire fighters from Pumper 23 were in the alley. The wall collapsed into the alley trapping all four fire fighters at approximately 2006 hours. One fire fighter from Pumper 23 was pushed to his knees near the driver’s side tailboard of Pumper 23. The other fire fighter from Pumper 23 was covered to his waist with debris. The fire fighters from Pumper 10 and Truck 2 were completely covered with debris. The fire fighters from Pumper 10 and Truck 2 were removed and pronounced dead at the hospital. The two fire fighters from Pumper 23 were rescued from the debris pile and admitted to the hospital for treatment.

Contributing Factors

  • Arson fire
  • Failure to maintain an established exclusion and collapse zone on Side Delta
  • Tactical level management
  • Building construction
  • Personnel accountability system
  • Unclear function of the district safety officer
  • Pre-incident planning
  • Nonsprinklered structure

Key Recommendations

  • Fire departments should ensure, when a collapse zone is established, that the collapse zone is properly managed and enforced by the division supervisor and/or assistant safety officer. Command should also consider designating exclusion zone(s) or no-entry zones as needed due to dangerous or hazardous conditions
  • Fire departments should ensure that once command is established at an incident, the incident commander maintains control of situation status, resource status, and communications, plus ensures the completion of the tactical objectives.


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