On December 17, 2008, a 59-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (the victim) was fatally injured when a tractor-trailer struck his parked privately owned vehicle (POV). The victim had responded to a weather related single motor vehicle incident on an interstate highway. The vehicle was traveling eastbound when the driver lost control, drove through the median into the westbound lanes, and rolled over onto the north shoulder of the westbound lanes. Upon his arrival to the scene, the incident commander (IC) advised the victim to position his pick-up truck upstream to warn oncoming traffic of the vehicle incident in the curve. He positioned himself upstream on the north shoulder of the westbound lanes and turned on his emergency flashers and roof-top light bar. The oncoming tractor, pulling two trailers, lost control when changing lanes causing the rear trailer to swing counter-clockwise. The operator swerved several times before the rear trailer struck the victim's pick-up truck that was positioned on the north shoulder. The victim was not ejected from the vehicle and was found laying on the rear set of seats without his seat belt on. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include hazardous road conditions, the speed of the tractor-trailer, and nonuse of a seat belt by the fire fighter. NIOSH investigators concluded that, in order to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, companies using tractor-trailers should ensure that operators drive in a manner that is compatible with weather conditions. NIOSH investigators also recommend that fire departments and fire service consensus standard committees consider reevaluating current standards on seat belt use to include their use while vehicles are parked and occupied at highway incidents. Although there is no evidence that the following recommendation could have specifically prevented this fatality, NIOSH investigators recommend that fire departments should reevaluate current policies and procedures to ensure that temporary traffic control devices are available and deployed upstream of warning vehicles.
Region-8; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Emergency-equipment; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Motor-vehicles; Safety-belts; Safety-practices; Safety-equipment; Protective-equipment; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Surveillance