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Career helitack fire fighter dies in burnover during an initial attack at a wildland fire operation - California.
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 F2004-40, 2006 Jan; :1-15
On September 12, 2004, a 24-year-old female career fire fighter (the victim) died while conducting an initial attack at a wildland fire. A Helitack crew responded in a helicopter to a wildland fire in a remote river drainage with slopes ranging from 80 to 120 percent. The crew began constructing an indirect downhill handline from a forest service road in an attempt to establish an anchor point at the river. A wind shift caused the fire to make an upslope run into the crew. Four crew members ran downhill toward the river while the victim and another fire fighter ran uphill toward another crew member standing on the road. The victim was overrun by fire and later pronounced dead at the scene. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments and fire service agencies should: 1. ensure that crews are able to reach a safety zone(s) quickly when deciding to construct a downhill/indirect handline in steep terrain. 2. ensure that officers establish an initial attack plan that allows for the fire to be fought aggressively, but provides for the protection and safety of fire fighters first. 3. ensure that crews fully comply with "The Standard Fire Orders." 4. ensure that individual crews establish Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and Safety Zones (LCES) prior to fighting the fire.
Region-9; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Fire-safety; Emergency-responders; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Work-practices; Safety-practices; Surveillance
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
NTIS Accession No.
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