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Sudden roof collapse of a burning auto parts store claims the lives of two fire fighters - Virginia, March 18, 1996.

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, FACE 96-17, 1996 May; :1-7
The case of two fire fighters who were killed when the roof of a burning auto parts store collapsed was examined. The victims were an acting lieutenant and a fire fighter specialist employed by a fire department with about 320 workers. The victims were responding to a report of sparking in a fuse box in an auto parts store. The panel box in the store was improperly grounded, and the sparking was caused by a break in the neutral line on the 208/120 volt three phase service drop to the store. Several fire company units responded. The victims entered the store through the rear, and approximately 9 minutes later radioed that they were in trouble and could not get out. This transmission was not understood by the nearest battalion. The fire accelerated rapidly and the roof collapsed about 1 minute later. Body burns and smoke inhalation were listed as the preliminary causes of death. It was recommended that fire command maintain close accountability for all personnel at a fire scene, that at least four fire fighters be present before interior fire fighting operations are initiated at working structural fires, that standard operating procedures and equipment be adequate to support the volume of radio traffic at multiple responder fire scenes, that all structural building materials and components be covered by inspections and prefire planning, and that municipalities ensure that all electrical circuits be installed in accordance with the National Electrical Code.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-96-17; Region-3; Fire-hazards; Accident-analysis; Work-practices; Fire-fighting; Fire-safety; Firemen
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division