The deaths of three volunteer firefighters from carbon-monoxide (630080) inside a 33 foot deep water well were investigated. A total of four volunteer firefighters responded to a request from a local resident to remove the remains of a dead animal from a 33 foot deep well. The concrete well opening measured 18 inches by 22 inches, and the well shaft was about 5 by 7 feet. The firefighters attempted to pump the water out of the well using a 9 horsepower gasoline engine powered pump placed on a platform about 15 feet into the well. After turning on the engine, two firefighters on the platform began to suffer dizziness, and collapsed. The engine was turned off after 8 to 9 minutes. Eight volunteer firefighters entered the well in rescue attempts over approximately 3 hours. Only two of these wore supplied air respirators. One of the first two firefighters to enter the well was rescued and revived; the second firefighter and two of the rescuers died. Two of the firefighters died of carbon-monoxide inhalation, and the third died of drowning, with loss of function due to carbon-monoxide inhalation. It is recommended that proper procedures for entering confined spaces be followed; that a respiratory protection program be designed to protect firefighters from respiratory hazards; and that volunteer firefighters be trained in the use and limitations of gasoline powered pumps and the hazards of carbon-monoxide in a confined area.
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