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Preventing deaths and injuries of fire fighters working above fire-damaged engineered wood floor joists.

Merinar T; Tarley J
NOIRS 2008-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, October 21-23, 2008, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2008 Oct; :F4.1
Fire fighters are at risk of falling through fire-damaged floors. Fires burning underneath floors can significantly degrade engineered wood floor systems with little indication to the fire fighter working on the floor. Engineered wood I-joists represent an emerging technology in the building sector that offers several advantages over traditional sawn lumber. It is estimated that engineered wood I-joists are used in over half of all new wood-frame construction. Methods: The NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program conducts investigations of fire fighter line of duty deaths to identify causal factors and formulate recommendations for preventing future deaths and injuries. The program does not seek to determine fault or place blame but to learn from these tragic events and prevent future similar occurrences. Results: Structure fires are the third leading cause of fire fighter fatalities, behind only CVDs and motor vehicle incidents. In the past 2 years, NIOSH has investigated 3 incidents involving 3 fire fighter fatalities and 1 injury in which the fire fighters fell through fire-damaged engineered wood floors containing I-joists. The use of engineered wood I-joists and other engineered wood products will continue to increase. Conclusions: Evidence collected during NIOSH investigations suggest that fire fighters may not be adequately trained in recognizing the hazards of working above fire-damaged engineered wood floor systems. Fire fighters need to be trained to identify the presence of engineered wood I-joists and actions they can take when engineered wood floor systems are encountered. Fire Departments need to identify structures within their jurisdiction containing engineered wood products through pre-incident planning and inspections and develop appropriate response procedures. Builders, contractors, and owners should consider protecting engineered wood I-joists by covering the underside with fire-resistant materials.
Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Exposure-assessment; Fire-fighters; Floors; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Mortality-data; Mortality-rates; Mortality-surveys; Occupational-exposure; Safety-education; Safety-engineering; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-research; Statistical-analysis; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Work-operations; Work-performance; Work-practices; Surveillance
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NOIRS 2008-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, October 21-23, 2008, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division