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-F06, 1998 Jul; :1-9
On February 5, 1998, two male volunteer fire fighters (Victim #1 and Victim #2) died of smoke inhalation while trying to exit the basement of a single-family dwelling after a backdraft occurred. A volunteer Engine company composed of four fire fighters and one driver/operator were the first responders to a structure fire at a single-family dwelling 3 miles from the fire department. When the Engine company arrived, one fire fighter on board reported light smoke showing from the roof. The four fire fighters (including Victim #1) entered the dwelling through the kitchen door and proceeded down the basement stairs to determine the fire's origin. The four fire fighters searched the basement which was filled with a light to moderate smoke. A few minutes later, a fifth fire fighter from Rescue 211 (Victim #2) joined the group. After extinguishing a small fire in the ceiling area, Victim #2 raised a ceiling panel and a backdraft occurred in the concealed ceiling space. The pressure and fire from the backdraft knocked ceiling tiles onto the fire fighters, who became disoriented and lost contact with each other and their hoseline. Two fire fighters located on the basement staircase exited the dwelling with assistance from two fire fighters who were attempting rescue. One fire fighter was rescued through an exterior basement door and the two victims' SCBAs ran out of air while they were trying to escape. Both fire fighters died of smoke inhalation and other injuries. Additional rescue attempts were made by other fire fighters but failed due to excessive heat and smoke and lack of an established water supply. NIOSH investigators concluded that, in order to prevent similar incidents, fire departments should: utilize the first arriving engine company as the command company and conduct an initial scene survey implement an incident command system with written standard operating procedures for all fire fighters provide a backup hose crew provide adequate on-scene communications including fireground tactical channels train fire fighters in the various essentials of, but not limited to, how to operate in smoke-filled environments, basement fire operations, dangers of ceiling collapse, ventilation practices, utilizing a second hoseline during fire attack, and identifying pre-backdraft, rollover, and flashover conditions appoint an Incident Safety Officer.