On February 13, 2005, a 36-year-old male career Captain (the victim) was electrocuted while working at the scene of a three alarm residential structure fire. The Captain was checking on one of his crew members when he walked under a tree and came in contact with a 12kv power line. The line had burned through early in the fire with one section landing on the ground to the south and the other lodged in a tree near the northwest corner of the fire building. It is believed the victim knew of the downed power line that had fallen to the south. However, it appeared to witnesses that he was unaware of the power line that was hanging in the tree, and possibly did not see the caution tape or hear the warning of a fire fighter who was in the vicinity. He walked directly into the power line and collapsed to the ground. A nearby fire fighter used an ax handle to secure and hold the power line off of the victim while fire fighters pulled him away from the line to a safe area. Advanced life support was administered immediately by emergency medical personnel who were at the scene. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. NIOSH investigators concluded that to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. establish, implement, and enforce standard operating procedures/guidelines (SOPs/SOGs) that address the safety of fire fighters when working near downed power lines; 2. ensure that fire fighters maintain a safe distance from energized electrical hazards, such as downed power lines, until the conductor is de-energized; 3. ensure that fire fighters are aware of the hazard when working around energized electrical conductors and provide barriers or alerting techniques, which are effective and distinguishable under the conditions, to prevent fire fighters from entering an identified danger zone; 4. ensure that fire fighter training includes procedures for recognizing and dealing safely with electrical hazards on the fireground; 5. ensure that all fireground safety broadcasts are acknowledged and repeated; and, 6. ensure that team continuity is maintained on the fireground during fire suppression operations. Although there is no evidence that the following recommendations could have specifically prevented this fatality, NIOSH investigators recommend that fire departments: 1. ensure that a personnel accountability system is in place and that it includes provisions for, and training on, personnel accountability reporting (PAR) procedures, and, 2. ensure that a clearly marked and monitored collapse zone is established once a defensive fire fighting strategy has been called and a structure has been identified at risk of collapsing.
Region-5; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Fire-fighting-equipment; Fire-hazards; Fire-safety; Self-contained-breathing-apparatus; Surveillance; Respiratory-protection; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Toxic-gases; Poison-gases; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Emergency-responders