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Career fire fighter seriously injured from collapse of bowstring truss roof - California.

Tarley J
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE F2009-21, 2010 Dec; :1-24
On May 21, 2009, a 36-year-old male career fire fighter was seriously injured while operating in a non-designated collapse zone of a commercial structure when an overhang of a bowstring truss roof system collapsed and struck him. The first arriving company officer reported a working fire in a single story Type II warehouse. The officer looked under a steel roll-up door that was raised approximately three feet off of the ground and saw heavy fire towards the rear of the structure from floor to ceiling. Per department procedures, the first arriving companies went into a "Fast Attack" mode. Crews attempted but were unable to enter the structure because the steel roll-up door wasn't functioning and the man door was heavily secured. The department's Deputy Chief arrived on the scene 9 minutes after the initial crew and determined that the fire should be fought defensively, however, this command was not relayed over the radio or verified with all crews. A crew was operating a 2 ½-inch handline just outside the structure approximately 20 minutes after the first apparatus arrived when the overhang collapsed and trapped the nozzleman. Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include: scene management and risk analysis, a well-involved fire in a structure with hazardous construction features, and fire fighters operating within a potential collapse area. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should: 1. ensure that they have consistent policies and training on an incident management system; 2. develop, implement and enforce written standard operating procedures (SOPs) that identify incident management training standards and requirements for members expected to serve in command roles; 3. ensure that the incident commander conducts an initial size-up and risk assessment of the incident scene before beginning fire fighting operations; 4. ensure that the first due company officer establishes a stationary command post, maintains the role of director of fireground operations, and does not become involved in firefighting efforts; 5. implement and enforce written standard operating procedures (SOPs) that define a defensive strategy; 6. ensure that policies are followed to establish and monitor a collapse zone when conditions indicate the potential for structural collapse; 7. train all fire fighting personnel on building construction and the risks and hazards related to structural collapse; 8. conduct pre-incident planning inspections of buildings within their jurisdictions to facilitate development of safe fireground strategies and tactics.
Region-9; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Fire-safety; Emergency-responders; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Risk-analysis; Surveillance
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Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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NIOSH Division
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Services: Public Safety
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Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division