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Volunteer fire chief killed when rubber-tracked vehicle overturns at brush fire - Washington.

Merinar TR
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 F2010-15, 2010 Dec; :1-31
On June 23, 2010, a 46-year-old male volunteer Fire Chief (the victim) was killed when the rubber-tracked vehicle he was operating overturned during fire suppression operations at a brush fire. The incident occurred on a steep hillside covered with sage brush and short dry grass. The victim was accompanied on the rubber-tracked vehicle by another fire fighter who was using the vehicle's 1-inch hand line to knock down hot spots along the flame front. Traveling uphill, the crew encountered rocky terrain where the slope increased sharply. The vehicle lost traction on loose rocks that were thrown out from under the spinning tracks. The Fire Chief maneuvered the vehicle side-hill to the east to get through the rock outcropping. The vehicle turned uphill, lost traction again, quickly turned back to the west, and then overturned sideways and rolled downhill. The fire fighter was ejected following the first roll and was not seriously injured. The vehicle rolled at least 3 times before coming to rest on the driver's side, facing west, pinning the Fire Chief beneath the vehicle's canopy. The Fire Chief died on the scene. Recovery efforts took several hours to stabilize and upright the vehicle. Contributing Factors: 1. Limited experience operating the rubber-tracked vehicle. 2. Operating the vehicle in loose rock on steep terrain. 3. Operating the vehicle in conditions beyond the vehicle's capability. 4. Seat belts were not used. Key Recommendations: 1. Ensure that all vehicles are safe and suitable for their intended use. 2. Ensure that all vehicle retrofits are completed by a qualified source and that retrofits are designed and installed within the original manufacturer's specifications. 3. Provide training on the safe operation of specialized vehicles. 4. Ensure that seat belts are properly worn at all times. 5. Be aware of programs that provide assistance in obtaining alternative funding, such as grant funding, to replace or purchase fire apparatus and equipment.
Region-10; Accident-analysis; Accidents; Accident-prevention; Injury-prevention; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Fire-fighting-equipment; Motor-vehicles; Safety-belts; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Traumatic-injuries; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division