On January 23, 2005, a 37-year-old male career fire fighter (the victim) died while exiting a residential basement fire. At approximately 1337 hours, crews were dispatched to a reported residential structure fire. Crews began to arrive on the scene at approximately 1340 hours and at approximately 1344 hours, the victim, a fire fighter and officer made entry through the front door and proceeded down the basement stairwell to conduct a search for the seat of the fire using a thermal imaging camera (TIC). At approximately 1346 hours, the victim and officer began to exit the basement when they became separated on the lower section of the stairwell. The officer reached the front stoop and realized that the victim had failed to exit the building. He returned to the top of the basement stairs and heard a personal alert safety system (PASS) alarm sounding in the stairwell and immediately transmitted a MAYDAY for the missing fire fighter. The victim was located at approximately 1349 hours, and numerous fire fighters spent the next twenty minutes working to remove the victim from the building. At approximately 1413 hours, the victim was transported to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. ensure that the first arriving officer or incident commander (IC) conducts a complete size-up of the incident scene; 2. ensure that fire fighters conducting interior operations provide progress reports to the Incident Commander; 3. establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding thermal imaging camera (TIC) use during interior operations; 4. ensure that MAYDAY procedures are followed and refresher training is provided annually or as needed; 5. ensure that a rapid intervention team (RIT) is on the scene and in position to provide immediate assistance prior to crews entering a hazardous environment; 6. educate homeowners on the importance of installing and maintaining smoke detectors on every level of their home and keeping combustible materials away from heat sources. Although there is no evidence that the following recommendation could have specifically prevented this fatality, NIOSH investigators recommend that fire departments should ensure that fire fighting teams check each other's personal protective equipment (PPE) for complete donning.
Region-2; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Respiratory-protective-equipment; Surveillance; Smoke-inhalation; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Toxic-gases; Poison-gases; Accident-prevention; Accident-analysis; Fire-safety; Fire-fighting-equipment; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices