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Forestry worker dies while bulldozing a fire line at a wildland fire - Alabama.

Baldwin TN; Brown SE
Cincinnati, OH: 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 F2000-02, 2000 Oct; :1-10
On July 6, 1998, a 50-year-old male Forestry Worker responded to a 50-acre wildland fire. After working on the scene for approximately 4 hours in 90 degree Fahrenheit heat, bulldozing fire lines around the perimeter of the fire and removing wire that was caught in the dozer tracks, the victim had a witnessed collapse. After cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced life support (ALS) on the scene and at the hospital, the victim died. The death certificate, completed by the Emergency Room physician, listed "cardiac arrest" as the immediate cause of death and "respiratory failure" as the underlying cause. An autopsy performed by the State Medical Examiner listed the mechanism of death as an "acute myocardial infarction" (heart attack). Other agencies have proposed a three-pronged strategy for reducing the risk of on-duty heart attacks and cardiac arrests among fire fighters. This strategy consists of (1) minimizing physical stress on fire fighters, (2) screening to identify and subsequently rehabilitate individuals at higher risk, and (3) encouraging increased individual physical capacity. The following issues are relevant to this Agency: 1) Fire fighters should have annual medical evaluations to determine their medical ability to perform duties without presenting a significant risk to the safety and health of themselves or others; 2) Reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease and improve cardiovascular capacity by phasing in a mandatory wellness/fitness program for fire fighters; 3) Provide portable radios with local emergency frequencies for use when operating away from a base station or mobile radio; 4) Provide training to staff and develop procedures regarding when and how to respond to medical emergencies.
Region 4; Forestry workers; Fire fighting; Fire fighters; Cardiovascular system disease; Cardiac function; Medical examinations; Medical screening; 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: March 3, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division