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Fire fighter dies of asphyxiation after falling through the burning roof of his home in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services
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 97WI010, 1997 Nov; :1-3
A 43-year-old male fire fighter (the victim) died while fighting a fire in the chimney and attic of his home. He was self-employed as a carpenter, and a 12-year member of the volunteer fire department in his rural community. The victim was home at the time of the early morning fire, and used his portable radio to call the fire department for assistance. He then used a ladder to climb to the roof of his house, and began to shovel deep rooftop snow onto the fire in an attempt to extinguish the fire near the chimney. The roofing next to the chimney collapsed, and the victim fell into the attic space below. The victim apparently tried to escape from the attic fire by crawling toward the furthermost point from the chimney, where a cubbyhole might have provided an exit. Within about ten minutes of the victim's call for help, the fire department volunteers and vehicles arrived at the scene. The captain saw the hole in the roof, but not the victim so the captain turned fire fighting duties over to one team, and led a second team of five fire fighters to search for the victim. The search team, equipped with turnout gear and self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), searched the first floor of the house without finding the victim. They then used chain saws to cut through the first-floor ceiling into the attic area for about 20 minutes before locating the victim. He was not breathing, and was pronounced dead at the scene. The FACE investigator concluded that, to prevent similar occurrences, fire fighters should: 1. Ensure that at least four fire fighters are on the scene before initiating fire fighting operations on the roof of a structural fire. 2. Ensure that all fire fighters wear and use personal alert safety system (PASS) devices when involved in fire fighting, rescue, or other hazardous duties.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Fire-hazards; Fire-safety
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-97WI010; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507081
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division