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-F17, 1998 Nov; :1-12
On June 5, 1998, a call came into fire dispatch reporting a fire in the boiler room at residential/commercial complex. Several units were dispatched, and upon arrival, Engine 332 reported smoke emitting from the building. The building involved in the fire was one of five three-story wood frame dwellings (see Figure 1). The fire building (building #1) and the collapse building (building #2) were both owned by the City, with some of the units occupied and some vacant. The building, which had undergone renovations over the past several years, was built around the turn of the century. The fire department initiated fire fighting operations, and several fire fighters were conducting an interior attack on the first floor of one of the dwellings, when it was reported that a civilian was trapped on the second floor. The Captain (Victim #1) and a fire fighter on Ladder 176, the Lieutenant (Victim #2) and two fire fighters on Engine 332, and the Lieutenant on Ladder 103 went to the second floor to search for the trapped civilian. Without warning, approximately 10 minutes after the arrival of the first unit, the rear of the second floor of building #2 collapsed, trapping five fire fighters in a burning inferno on the first floor. NIOSH investigators conclude that, to minimize the chances of similar occurrences, fire departments should: ensure that Incident Command conducts a thorough initial size up of the incident before initiating fire fighting efforts, and continually evaluates the risk versus gain during operations at an incident ensure that Incident Command always maintains close accountability for all personnel at the fire scene ensure that some type of tone or alert that is recognized by all fire fighters be transmitted immediately when conditions become unsafe for fire fighters ensure that Rapid Intervention Crews/Teams or Firefighter Assist and Search Teams (FAST Truck) are in place in the early stages of an incident ensure that communication equipment used on the fireground, e.g., handie-talkies, will remain operational in the event that one unit malfunctions.