On March 1, 2006, a volunteer fire fighter (the victim) was critically injured and another volunteer fire fighter was seriously injured while fighting a wildland/urban interface fire. The two fire fighters arrived on the scene at approximately 1600 hours as the fire jumped a paved road and began to burn in a field between two homes. The fire was rapidly spreading in an easterly direction toward a large pasture when the victim drove the grass truck into the field to conduct a direct attack on the south flank of the fire. The victim drove the grass truck while the other fire fighter attacked the fire using a hose line while riding in the bed of the truck. The victim instructed the fire fighter that they had to leave the area due to the limited visibility caused by the heavy smoke conditions. The fire fighter began to secure the hose line in the bed of the truck when he felt an increase in heat from the advancing fire. The victim put the grass truck in reverse and inadvertently backed the truck into a ditch where the fire fighter fell out of the bed of the truck and became entangled in a barbed wire fence. The fire burned over their position, destroying the grass truck, critically injuring the victim, and seriously injuring the fire fighter. The fire fighter freed himself from the barbed wire, located the incapacitated victim in the thick smoke, and told him that he was going to get help. The fire fighter was walking toward the paved road when he flagged down a tender with two fire fighters inside. He told them about the victim's condition and then sent them across the field to help him. The victim was transported in the tender back to the paved road where an ambulance was waiting to transport him to an area hospital. The victim was air lifted at 1836 hours to the State Burn Center. The injured fire fighter was transported to the regional hospital where he was treated for 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his hands, face, and lower back before being released later that same day. The victim died on March 24, 2006, as a result of the injuries he received on March 1, 2006. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. ensure that wildland fire fighting crews check-in at the Incident Command Post, staging area or with the Division/Group Supervisor and obtain a briefing and assignment prior to engaging in fire fighting activities; 2. ensure that all fire fighters expected to participate in wildland fire fighting operations receive training equivalent to the NFPA Wildland Fire Fighter Level I; 3. provide fire fighters with approved fire shelters and provide training on the proper deployment of the fire shelters at least annually, with periodic refresher training; 4. provide fire fighters with wildland appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) (e.g., Nomex pants or coveralls) that is NFPA 1977 compliant; 5. ensure that personnel engaged in wildland fire fighting follow the guidelines addressed in the Fireline Handbook developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group; and, 6. establish, implement, and enforce procedures which include, but are not limited to, combating ground cover fires.
Region-6; Accident-analysis; Accidents; Accident-prevention; Injury-prevention; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Training; Safety-measures; Safety-education; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Protective-measures; Protective-equipment; Protective-clothing; Fire-fighting-equipment; Surveillance