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Career fire fighter dies in church fire following roof collapse - Indiana.

Wertman SC
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 F2011-14, 2012 Jan; :1-46
On June 15, 2011, a 40-year-old male career fire fighter (the victim) lost his life at a church fire after the roof collapsed, trapping him in the fire. At 1553 hours, the victim's department was dispatched to a report of a church fire at an unconfirmed address. Units arriving on scene observed visible flames and heavy smoke coming from the roof of the church. A second alarm was immediately requested due to the lack of hydrants in this area. Initially, the incident commander (IC) sent in a truck crew consisting of an officer and 4 fire fighters, followed by 2 fire fighters (including the victim) from the arriving engine company for search and suppression activities. The interior crew was initially met with visible conditions, light smoke, and no visible fire within the church. Conditions quickly changed after walls and areas of the ceiling were opened, exposing a fire engulfed attic space. A decision was then made to evacuate the building due to the amount of fire burning above the fire fighters. At this same moment (approximately 1610 hours), the roof began to collapse into the church where the fire fighters were working, trapping the victim and injuring others as they exited out of windows or ran from the collapse. Due to the magnitude of the fire, the fire department was unable to return to the collapsed area to rescue the victim. The victim's body was later recovered after the fire was extinguished. Contributing Factors: 1. Initial size-up did not fully consider the impact of limited water supply, available staffing, the occupancy type, and lightweight roof truss system. 2. Risk management principles not effectively used. 3. High risk, low frequency incident. 4. Rapid fire progression. 5. Offensive versus defensive strategy. 6. Failure to fully develop and implement an occupational safety and health program per NFPA 1500. 7. Fire burned undetected within the roof void space for unknown period of time. 8. Roof collapse. Key Recommendations: 1. Fire departments should ensure that a complete situational size-up is conducted on all structure fires. 2. Fire departments should use risk management principles at all structure fires. 3. Fire departments should conduct pre-incident planning inspections of buildings within their jurisdictions to facilitate development of safe fireground strategies and tactics.
Region-5; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Injury-prevention; Accident-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Emergency-responders; Accidents; Injuries; Safety-practices; Training; Risk-analysis; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2011-14; B04132012
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: November 20, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division