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 F2000-17, 2001 May; :1-9
On February 11, 2000, a 25-year-old male volunteer fire fighter/driver was injured and subsequently died as the result of injuries he received when the engine he was driving crashed into a tree. A 35-year-old female volunteer fire fighter who was a passenger in the engine was also injured. At 1530 hours, the volunteer component of this combination fire department was notified by Central Dispatch of a motor-vehicle incident involving injuries. Rescue 2 (two fire fighters/paramedics) and Engine 1 (a driver/operator [the victim] and a fire fighter [the injured]) responded to the scene. The Assistant Chief responded in his privately owned vehicle (POV). En route to the scene of the motor-vehicle incident, the driver of the engine pulled/swerved to the right side of the road to avoid colliding with an oncoming vehicle. The engine traveled onto the soft shoulder and continued for approximately 230 feet. To avoid striking a utility pole, the driver steered the engine sharply back onto the road. He overcompensated, and the engine traveled across both lanes, left the road, and struck a large tree. The passenger was ejected from the cab of the engine and landed approximately 30 feet away. At 1537 hours, Central Dispatch requested all volunteers to respond to the scene to assist in the extrication of the victim. The victim was trapped in the engine and was removed approximately 1 and 1/2 hours later. The victim and the passenger were taken by ambulance to an area hospital. The passenger was hospitalized for 5 days, and the victim died 3 days after the incident. The NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. ensure all drivers of fire apparatus are licensed for the vehicles they are expected to operate; 2. ensure all drivers of fire department vehicles are responsible for the safe and prudent operation of the vehicle under all conditions; 3. ensure all drivers of fire department vehicles receive driver training at least twice a year; 4. establish, implement, and enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) on emergency vehicle operation; and, develop and document an inspection, maintenance, and repair schedule for fire apparatus.