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Carbon monoxide kills three volunteer firefighters inside well in Pennsylvania, May 1, 1990.
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 90-30, 1990 Dec; :1-12
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.
NIOSH-Author; Region-3; FACE-90-30; Accident-analysis; Confined-spaces; Firemen; Respirators; Toxic-gases; Breathing-atmospheres
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
NTIS Accession No.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: May 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division