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Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies in Tanker Rollover Responding to Structure Fire – Oklahoma

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

F2017-06 Date Released:  July 2, 2018

Executive Summary

On February 22, 2017, a 68-year-old volunteer fire fighter died in a tanker rollover while responding to a working structure fire. At 0617 hours, the local volunteer fire department was dispatched for the report of a possible structure fire. Two additional volunteer fire departments were dispatched for automatic mutual aid. The volunteer fire fighter responded to a text message from his fire chief at 0646 hours requesting him to bring Tanker 1 to the scene of the structure fire. It is unknown when the fire fighter left the station with Tanker 1. Visibility was limited due to extreme fog conditions, and the National Weather Service had issued a fog warning for the local area. While traveling south on a two-lane, paved county road, Tanker 1 ran off the right side of the road through a narrow soft shoulder into a ditch. The fire fighter steered Tanker 1 back onto the pavement. While attempting to maintain the direction of travel, Tanker 1 overturned to the left, rolled over one and one-half times, and came to rest upside down on the pavement. The fire fighter was ejected from the cab and killed instantly when the vehicle rolled onto him. At 0713 hours, a civilian motorist came upon the overturned tanker and called 911. The fire fighter was not wearing a seat belt.

Contributing Factors

  • Low visibility caused by extreme fog conditions
  • Seat belt not used
  • Minimal shoulder on roadway at scene of crash

Key Recommendations

  • States and authorities having jurisdiction should ensure that all fire apparatus drivers complete a comprehensive driver training program that meets the requirements of NFPA 1451 Standard for a Fire and Emergency Services Vehicle Operations Training Program and NFPA 1002 Standard for Fire Apparatus Driver/Operator Professional Qualifications, before allowing a member to operate a fire department apparatus.
  • Fire departments should ensure that standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding seatbelt use are enforced.
  • Fire departments should ensure that department drivers/operators are trained in the unique characteristics of driving a tanker and maintaining control.

Additionally, governing municipalities (federal, state, regional, and local) should:

  • Consider setting mandatory training requirements for volunteer fire fighters.


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