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Off-duty municipal firefighter/EMT drowns in Massachusetts River.

Massachusetts Department of Health
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 92MA004, 1992 May; :1-7
A 30 year old male off-duty municipal firefighter/EMT performing independent scuba diving work for an area electricity production company accidentally drowned when his body became entrapped in a submerged river water gate. The water gate was one of two points where river water enters a submerged pipeline/shaft system to provide turbine power for the electricity generation process. The company had been attempting for several days to completely close the water gate for maintenance purposes without success. The victim had contracted with the company to clear an underwater obstruction from one of the water gates hoping the gate would then freely and entirely close. Having performed this service on at least one previous occasion and while attempting to clear the obstruction, his leg(s) became entrapped in the partially opened water gate. With his air supply rapidly running out, several unsuccessful attempts were made from above to extricate the victim. By the time certified and equipped divers arrived on-site to further the rescue attempt, the victim had been without air for approximately 30-40 minutes. Once extricated, the victim was revived, yet he died several hours later at the regional hospital. The Massachusetts FACE Investigator concluded that, in order to prevent future similar occurrences, divers and entities needing such services should: 1. Determine, assess, and discuss beforehand, the actual and/or potential hazards associated with the performance of underwater projects. Diving equipment should be checked and double checked and plans made in advance of rescue operations that may be needed in association with such identified or unidentified hazards. 2. Implement and enforce strict compliance with policies that ensure fail-safe communications with individuals engaged in underwater operations. 3. Implement and enforce strict compliance with policies that mandate diving in teams of no less than two certified persons familiar in underwater rescue operations. 4. Implement and enforce strict compliance with policies that mandate one or more certified persons familiar in underwater rescue operations be located immediately above the jobsite water level with appropriate equipment to mount immediate rescue operations, if necessary.
Region-1; 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; Divers; Diving; Diving-equipment; Underwater-workers; Rescue-workers; Equipment-reliability
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-92MA004; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-108704
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Massachusetts Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division