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Career fire fighter dies and another is injured following structure collapse at a triple decker residential fire - Massachusetts.

Merinar T
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 F2011-30, 2012 Jun; :1-41
On December 8, 2011, a 43-year-old male career fire fighter received fatal injuries when he was trapped under falling debris during a partial collapse at the rear of a three-story residential structure. The victim was part of a rescue company that was conducting a secondary interior search for a reported missing resident. The secondary search was initiated approximately 30 minutes after the crews had arrived on-scene and approximately 10 minutes after fire fighters evacuated the building due to deteriorating conditions within the burning structure. The secondary search was initiated after the missing civilian's roommate persisted in telling fire fighters that his friend was still inside, and most likely in a rear, second-floor bedroom. The collapse trapped the victim under debris on the first floor while the injured fire fighter rode the second floor down to the basement. A total of 11 fire fighters were inside the structure at the time of the collapse. Rescue operations took approximately 50 minutes to free the victim who was unresponsive. Extensive shoring was required within the unstable collapse area and crews had to breach the brick cellar wall to reach the injured fire fighter. Following the extrication efforts, fire fighters continued to search for the missing civilian. It was later determined that the missing civilian was not inside the structure at the time of the collapse. The civilian had left prior to the arrival of the fire department. Contributing Factors: 1. Civilian resident persistently stated another resident was still inside; 2. Fire burned well over 30 minutes before being brought under control; 3. Structure reacted to fire conditions in an unexpected manner; 4. 1890 era balloon-frame wood structure in deteriorated condition; 5. Instability of cellar wall and surrounding soil due to age and weather conditions; 6. Structural deficiencies not readily apparent; 7. Unusual cellar configuration for this type of residential structure; 8. Building inspection findings not readily available to fire department through city dispatch system. Key Recommendations: 1. Fire departments and city building departments should work together to ensure information on hazardous buildings is readily available to both; 2. Authorities having jurisdiction should ensure that hazardous building information is part of the information contained in computerized automatic dispatch systems; 3. Fire departments should train all firefighting personnel on the risks and hazards related to structural collapse; 4. Fire departments should use risk management principles including occupant survivability profiling at all structure fires.
Region-5; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Fire-safety; Emergency-responders; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Risk-analysis; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2011-30; B08012012
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