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Backdraft in commercial building claims the lives of two fire fighters, injures three, and five fire fighters barely escape - Illinois.

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 98-F05, 1998 May; :1-7
On February 11, 1998, two male fire fighters (the victims), both 40 years of age, entered a commercial tire-service center to evaluate the interior, with no smoke or fire showing from the exterior. The two fire fighters (the victims), along with 8 to 10 other fire fighters and officers, entered the front door of the showroom and observed only light haze. However, when they entered the service area, black smoke covering the top one-third of ceiling space was encountered, but no visible fire. From the amount of smoke in the showroom, it was evident there was a smoldering fire somewhere; however, none of the fire fighters could locate the origin. Within minutes, all fire fighters in the interior of the building were caught in a hazardous backdraft that claimed the lives of two fire fighters, and nearly claimed all those who were inside. NIOSH investigators concluded that in order to prevent similar incidents, incident command must anticipate all possible circumstances which may be present in anticipation of rare and unexpected developments. To aid in this preparation, fire departments should: ensure that command conducts an initial evaluation of the incident scene ensure command makes the decision to ventilate a truss roof based on conditions on arrival. ensure fire fighters do not enter a structure fire during ventilation with a potential for backdraft or flashover ensure fire fighters conducting ventilation on the roof are in communication with command encourage municipalities to review their commercial building codes regarding exposed polystyrene insulation.
Fire-fighting; Fireman; Hazards; Construction-materials; Safety-equipment; Accident-prevention; Ventilation; Region-5
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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