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Career fire fighter dies after becoming trapped by fire in apartment building - New Jersey.

McFall M; Cortez K; Romano N
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 F2001-18, 2002 Mar; :1-17
On May 9, 2001, a 40-year-old male career fire fighter (the victim) died after he became trapped in a third-floor apartment while searching above the fire for occupants. The victim and Fire Fighter #1, from Truck 2, were assigned to conduct a primary search for a mother and her child who were reported as being trapped in a second-floor apartment. The victim and Fire Fighter #1 conducted a primary search of the three of the four apartments on the second floor while two Lieutenants (from Engine 2 and Engine 3) and a Captain (from truck 2) were attacking the fire with a 13/4-inch handline in the fourth apartment. No civilians were found on the second floor. The victim and Fire Fighter #1 proceeded up the stairwell toward the third floor where they encountered heavy smoke and high heat. The victim and Fire Fighter #1 then descended the stairwell to the second-floor landing. Fire Fighter #1 told the victim to stay on the hoseline and to help the lieutenant while he went to get some box lights from the truck. Fire Fighter #1 had just returned to the second floor landing when the Lieutenant from Engine 3 informed him that the victim had called over the radio that he was trapped in a third floor rear apartment. The Lieutenent from Engine 3 had attempted to stretch the handline up the stairwell to the third floor but found that the line was to short to reach down the hall toward the rear apartments. The fire fighter assist and search team (FAST) made several attempts to locate the victim but were unsuccessful due to the fire spread and deteriorating conditions of the building. The victim was found in an apartment bedroom on the third floor. He was unresponsive and not breathing. Two paramedics responded to the third floor, assesed the victims condition, and found no heart activity while using a heart monitor. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. ensure that the department's standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding structure fires are followed unless otherwise directed by the Incident Commander; 2. ensure that adequate fire control forces are on the scene and available for deployment for fire control activities; 3. ensure that team continuity is maintained with two or more fire fighters per team; 4. ensure that fire fighters notify their officer when they go above a fire; 5. ensure that fire fighters, when operating on the floor above the fire, have a charged hoseline; 6. ensure that fire fighters manually activate their PASS device after radioing Maydayo ensure that Incident Commanders size up the stretch of the first attack hose line; 7. ensure that a fire fighter assist and search team (FAST) is established and in position; 8. ensure that the Incident Commander is clearly identified as the only individual responsible for the overall coordination and direction of all activities at an incident; 9. establish and enforce standard operating procedures on the use of thermal imaging cameras for search-and-rescue operations. Additionally, municipalities should consider: 1. establishing and maintaining multiple operating frequencies for emergency services, allowing portable radios at incidents to be equipped with two frequencies, one channel for tactical messages and one channel for command.
Accidents; Rescue-measures; Rescue-workers; Fire-hazards; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Accident-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Injury-prevention; Emergency-responders
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division