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Request for assistance in preventing injuries and deaths of fire fighters.

Pettit TA; Merinar TR; Commodore MA; Ronk RM
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-125, 1994 Sep; :1-8
This request for assistance was intended to help prevent injuries and deaths in fire fighters. NIOSH has warned that fire departments must review their safety programs and emergency operating procedures and follow these programs and procedures. Four factors were identified as essential for the protection of firefighters: follow established fire fighting policies and procedures, implement an adequate respirator maintenance program, establish fire fighter accountability at the fire scene, and use personal alert safety system devices at the fire scene. An incident in which two deaths occurred was described. In the fire in question, fire fighters took an elevator to the floor of the fire, an action in direct violation of policy. At least one of the self contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) leaked during the incident. Respirator maintenance was apparently inadequate. The location of the firefighters during the fighting of the fire could not be ascertained. Even though the two fire fighters who died wore personal alert safety system (PASS) devices, they were not activated. NIOSH recommends that fire departments establish a written incident management system, implement a respirator maintenance program, implement a system of accountability at the scene of emergencies, employ a buddy system for fire fighters wearing SCBAs, ensure that fire fighters activate PASS devices when involved in hazardous duties, work towards elevator codes to require fire fighter control, and guard against heat stress.
NIOSH-Author; Fire-fighting; Firemen; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Personal-protective-equipment
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Alert
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 94-125
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: October 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division