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Fire fighter suffers sudden cardiac death while fighting wildland fire - Virginia.

Baldwin-T; Hales-T
Cincinnati, OH: 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 F2010-35, 2011 May; :1-11
On September 24, 2010, a 54-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (FF) responded to a wildland fire at approximately 1756 hours. At the scene, the FF stretched 300 feet of 1½-inch hoseline and extinguished an area of fire for about 35 minutes. After reporting that he did not feel well, the FF collapsed upon entering his brush truck. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced life support were begun, and the FF was transported to the local hospital's emergency department (ED). CPR and advanced life support continued in the ED for 5 minutes. At 1950 hours the ED physician pronounced the FF dead, and resuscitation efforts stopped. The death certificate and the autopsy listed "cardiomegaly" as the cause of death. Given the FF's underlying congenital heart block, cardiomegaly, and left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical exertion involved in responding to the call and performing fire suppression duties triggered an arrhythmia resulting in his sudden cardiac death. NIOSH investigators offer the following recommendations to address general safety and health issues. It is possible if these recommendations had been implemented, the FF's death may have been prevented. 1. Provide preplacement and annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters. 2. Ensure fire fighters are cleared for return to duty by a physician knowledgeable about the physical demands of fire fighting, the personal protective equipment used by fire fighters, and the various components of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582. 3. Perform a preplacement and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation. 4. Phase in a comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters. 5. Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) as part of the Fire Department's medical evaluation program. 6. Ensure fire fighters wear personal protective clothing appropriate to the incident.
Region-3; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Physical-fitness; Medical-screening; Physical-stress; Training; Personal-protective-equipment; Self-contained-breathing-apparatus; Protective-equipment; Protective-clothing
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
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Identifying No.
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