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Volunteer captain runs low on air, becomes disoriented, and dies while attempting to exit a large commercial structure - Texas.

Tarley J; Bowyer M
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 F2010-16, 2011 Aug; :1-20
On July 3, 2010, a 30-year-old male volunteer Captain died while attempting to locate and extinguish a late night fire in the back of an egg processing plant. The seat of the fire was located in a dry storage area at the back of the plant that housed paper and styrofoam products for packaging the eggs. When the fire department arrived, flames were visible from the roof of the dry storage area. The victim's crew attempted to breach a wall for more direct access to where they thought the seat of the fire was located. The access was blocked by stacks of wooden pallets. Two captains made entry with an uncharged hoseline through the front door to find and extinguish the fire. The front of the plant was charged with heavy dark smoke and high heat conditions. They became disoriented in the thick smoke, lost the hoseline and called a Mayday that was not heard and acted upon. While searching for the handline, the captains ran out of air, got more disoriented and were separated. One captain attempted to kick out a section of wall and was heard by exterior crews who breached the wall and rescued him. Intense fire conditions thwarted all further rescue efforts until the fire was extinguished. The victim was found the next morning. Contributing Factors: 1. lack of scene management and risk analysis; 2. inadequate water supply; 3. apparatus specifications and equipment; 4. ineffective tactics; 5. ineffective communications; 6. inefficient training concerns; 7. rapid intervention team (RIT) not established; 8. structure built with little or no protection against fire growth. Key Recommendations: 1. ensure that the incident commander conducts an initial size-up and risk assessment of the incident scene before beginning interior fire fighting operations and continually evaluates the conditions to determine if operations should become defensive; 2. train fire fighters to communicate interior and exterior conditions to the incident commander as soon as possible and to provide regular updates; 3. ensure that an adequate water supply is established and maintained; 4. conduct pre-incident planning inspections of buildings to facilitate development of safe fireground strategies and tactics.
Region-6; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Fire-safety; Fire-fighting; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Fire-hazards; Fire-fighting-equipment; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Protective-equipment; Surveillance
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Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
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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