On April 16, 2007, a 24-year-old male career fire fighter (the victim) was fatally injured while trapped in the master bedroom during a wind-driven residential structure fire. At 0603 hours, dispatch reported a single family house fire. At 0609 hours, the victim's ladder truck was second to arrive on scene. Fire was visible at the back exterior corner of the residence. Noticing cars in the driveway, no one outside, and no lights visible in the house, the lieutenant from the first arriving engine called in a second alarm. A charged 2 ½" hoseline was stretched to the front door by the first arriving engine crew. The engine crew stayed at the door with the attack line while the cause of poor water pressure in the hoseline was determined. The victim and his lieutenant, wearing their SCBA, entered the residence through the unlocked front door. With light smoke showing, they walked up the stairs to check the bedrooms. The victim and lieutenant cleared the top of the stairs and went straight into the master bedroom. With smoke beginning to show at ceiling level, the victim did a right-hand search while the lieutenant with thermal imaging camera (TIC) in-hand checked the bed. Suddenly the room turned black then orange with flames. The lieutenant yelled to the victim to get out. While verbal communication among the crew was maintained, the lieutenant found the doorway and moved toward the stairs. He ended up falling down the stairs to a curve located midway in the staircase. The lieutenant tried to direct the victim to the stairs verbally and with a flashlight. As the wind gusted up to 48 miles per hour, the wind-driven fire and smoke engulfed the residence. The incident commander (IC) ordered an evacuation and the lieutenant was brought outside by the engine and rescue company crews. The ladder truck lieutenant received burns on his ears and right index finger. At 0614 hours, the rescue company officer issued a Mayday followed by the victim's Mayday. With protection from hose lines, several attempts were made by the engine and rescue company crews to reach the second floor. On the third attempt the stair landing was reached but the ceiling started collapsing and flames intensified. At 0621 hours, due to the intensity of the fire throughout the structure, all fire fighters were evacuated, operations turned defensive, but the incident continued in rescue mode. At 0657 hours, the victim was found in the master bedroom partially on a couch underneath the front windows. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. ensure that standard operating procedures (SOPs) for size-up and advancing a hoseline address the hazards of high winds and gusts; 2. ensure that primary search and rescue crews either advance with a hoseline or follow an engine crew with a hoseline; 3. ensure that staffing levels are sufficient to accomplish critical tasks; 4. ensure that fire fighters are sufficiently trained in survival skills; 5. ensure that Mayday protocols are reviewed, modified and followed; 5. ensure that water supply is established and hoses laid out prior to crews entering the fire structure; 6. ensure that fire fighters are trained for extreme conditions such as high winds and rapid fire progression associated with lightweight construction; 7. Additionally, municipalities should ensure that dispatch collects and communicates information on occupancy and extreme environmental conditions. Although there is no evidence that the following recommendation could have specifically prevented this fatality, NIOSH investigators recommend that fire departments ensure that radios are operable in the fireground environment.
Region-3; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting-equipment; Fire-safety; Work-practices; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Workplace-monitoring; Accident-analysis; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Injury-prevention; Accident-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Surveillance