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 F2000-22, 2000 Sep; :1-8
On March 15, 2000, a 62-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (the victim) died from complications due to burns received during a wildland fire operation. The fire started on March 6, 2000 (date of incident), when a property owner burned a brush pile that ignited the surrounding area. Note: Wind speeds of 21 mph with gusts of up to 36 mph were recorded at the time of this incident. At approximately 1441 hours, Central Dispatch notified the volunteer department of a wildland fire. The Chief and Fire Fighter #1 responded in Engine 1 and were first to arrive on the scene at approximately 1447 hours. They positioned their apparatus near the origin of the fire on the northwest flank. Engine 2 responded next on the scene, arriving at 1451 hours. The crew consisted of an Engine Operator and Fire Fighter #2, who positioned their apparatus at the head of the fire on the west flank. At approximately 1452 hours, Brush Truck 1 arrived on the scene, manned by Fire Fighter #3, who positioned the apparatus at the northeast flank of the fire. The victim and Fire Fighters #4 and #5 arrived on the scene by privately owned vehicles (POVs) during the times that Engine 2 and Brush Truck 1 arrived on the scene. Engine #2 was positioned outside of a fence line, at the head of the fire, supplying water to the suppression crew. The suppression crew (the victim, Fire Fighters #4 and #5, and the Engine Operator from Engine 2) were using a 1 1/2-inch brush line to suppress the fire. As the crew moved closer to the fire, the victim was pulling hoseline so that Fire Fighter #4 (nozzle man) could advance the line closer to the fire. The suppression crew decided to cut the fence and drive Engine 2 into the field to attain a better position for fire suppression activities. After pulling Engine 2 into the field, the crew decided to add another section of hose to extend the hoseline. After the extra section was added, the victim was pulling kinks out of the uncharged hoseline as the fire "shifted" directly toward the suppression crew. Fire Fighter #4, who was on the nozzle, fled the area as he saw the fire shift and received second-degree burns to his face and neck. As the fire shifted the victim was caught in the direct path of the fire and received third-degree burns. Fire Fighter #4 transported the victim to the local hospital by POV. The victim died 9 days later from complications due to burns. The NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. ensure that all fire fighters receive training equivalent to the NFPA Fire Fighter Level I certification; 2. ensure that all fire fighters receive training equivalent to the NFPA Wildland Fire Fighter Level I certification; 3. ensure that the department's Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are developed, followed, and refresher training is provided; 4. ensure that the Incident Commander conveys strategic decisions to all suppression crews on the fireground and continually reevaluates fire conditions; and, 5. provide fireground personnel with personal protective equipment and monitor to ensure its use.