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 99-F46, 2000 May; :1-8
On November 3, 1999, an 18-year-old male, volunteer fire fighter was electrocuted after responding to a call involving a brush fire located in a utility easement. A Captain from the fire department was the first to arrive on the scene and was unable to see any downed power lines during his initial size-up. Approximately 2 minutes after the Captain's initial size-up, a Lieutenant and a fire fighter arrived in their privately owned vehicles (POVs). At approximately the same time, the victim arrived with the Assistant Chief in Brush Truck 911, followed by the Chief in Engine 912. The victim, the Chief, the Captain, the Lieutenant, and a fire fighter proceeded to the utility easement. They noted a tree had fallen and was leaning against the overhead power lines but did not see any downed lines. They found a small patch of smoldering debris between the base of an oak tree and woody bush. The victim, standing approximately 2 feet from the oak tree, was directed by the Chief to stomp out the embers in the smoldering brush. The victim came into contact with a downed, single-phase, 7,200-volt power line when he stepped on the smoldering pile. He first screamed and then fell to the ground. Fire fighters radioed dispatch for an ambulance. Approximately 4 minutes later, the other fire fighters were able to remove him from the line with a pike pole. They began cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) just as the ambulance arrived on the scene. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: Ensure that fire fighters are kept away from downed power lines at a distance equal to at least one span between poles until the line is de-energized ensure that fire fighters always do the following when they encounter downed power lines: assume that all lines are energized, call for the power provider to respond, and control the scene. Establish, implement, and enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) that address fire fighter safety when working near downed power lines. Ensure protective shields, barriers, or alerting techniques are used to protect fire fighters from contacting energized electrical conductors Ensure fire fighters are aware of the hazards when working around energized parts or equipment.