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NIOSH alert: request for assistance in preventing injuries and deaths of fire fighters due to structural collapse.

Pettit T; Dunn V; Main G
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. 99-146, 1999 Aug; :1-15
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) requests assistance in preventing injuries and deaths of U.S. fire fighters due to structural collapse during fire-fighting operations. Structural collapse of a building during fire fighting is a leading cause of death of fire fighters. Such collapse is very difficult to predict during fire fighting, and it usually occurs without warning. Fire departments should implement and review occupational safety programs and standard operating procedures to prevent serious injuries and deaths of fire fighters. NIOSH recommends that fire departments take 10 essential steps to minimize the risk of injury and death to fire fighters during structural fire fighting: 1. Ensure that the incident commander conducts an initial size-up and risk assessment of the incident scene before beginning interior fire fighting. 2. Ensure that the incident commander always maintains accountability for all personnel at a fire scene--both by location and function. 3. Establish rapid intervention crews (RICs)--often called rapid intervention teams--and make sure they are positioned to respond immediately to emergencies. 4. Ensure that at least four fire fighters are on the scene before beginning interior fire fighting at a structural fire (two fire fighters inside the structure and two outside). 5. Equip fire fighters who enter hazardous areas (such as burning or suspected unsafe structures) to maintain two-way communications with the incident commander. 6. Ensure that standard operating procedures and equipment are adequate and sufficient to support radio traffic at multiple-responder fire scenes. 7. Provide all fire fighters with personal alert safety system (PASS) devices and make sure that they wear and activate them when they are involved in fire fighting, rescue, or other hazardous duties. 8. Conduct prefire planning and inspections that cover all building materials and components of a structure. 9. Transmit an audible tone or alert immediately when conditions become unsafe for fire fighters. 10. Establish a collapse zone around buildings with parapet walls. NIOSH requests that the information in this Alert be brought to the attention of all U.S. fire fighters--including those in the largest metropolitan and the smallest rural departments--by the following: fire chiefs and fire commissioners and administrators, editors of trade journals and other publications, safety and health officials, State fire marshals, unions and labor organizations, fire-fighting agencies, and insurance companies.
Fire-fighting; Injury-prevention; Fire-fighting-equipment; Fire-protection-equipment; Traumatic-injuries; Mortality; Structural-analysis; Firemen; Risk-analysis; Emergency-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-monitoring; Communications-equipment; Warning-systems; Rescue-workers; Hazard-communication; Standards
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Alert
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 99-146
NIOSH Division
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, West Virginia
Page last reviewed: May 27, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division