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Fire fighter suffers heart attack and dies after fighting a structure fire - Louisiana.

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 F2012-10, 2012 Aug; :1-12
On December 3, 2011, a 45-year-old male volunteer fire fighter ("the FF") was dispatched to a structure fire. Wearing turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) off-air, the FF assisted in exterior fire suppression operations followed by interior overhaul (SCBA on-air) for a total of 30 minutes. After 10 minutes of self-rehabilitation, the FF assisted in breaking down hoselines when he commented that he "felt funny." He walked to the rescue unit and suddenly collapsed (0541 hours). Crew members notified dispatch to request an ambulance while cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was begun and an automated external defibrillator (AED) was placed; three shocks were administered. Advanced life support was provided by the ambulance personnel at the scene and during transport to the local hospital emergency department (ED). Inside the ED, the FF's pulse returned, but he never regained consciousness. An acute heart attack was diagnosed and emergency cardiac catheterization was performed with stent placement. The FF, however, suffered recurring bouts of ventricular fibrillation in the catheterization lab and in the intensive care unit over a period of 4 hours. At 1120 hours the FF was declared dead and resuscitation efforts were discontinued. The death certificate and the autopsy report listed "myocardial infarction" as the cause of death. Given the FF's underlying coronary artery disease (CAD), NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of fire suppression activities triggered his heart attack which resulted in sudden cardiac death. NIOSH investigators offer the following recommendations to prevent future similar incidents and to address general safety and health issues. 1. Monitor fire fighters' vital signs in rehabilitation during strenuous fire operations. 2. Provide preplacement and annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters in accordance with NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments. 3. Ensure that 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 NFPA 1582. 4. Phase in a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters. 5. Perform a preplacement and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for all members. 6. Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear a SCBA as part of the Fire Department's medical evaluation program.
Region-6; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Physical-fitness; Medical-screening; Personal-protective-equipment; Self-contained-breathing-apparatus; Respiratory-protective-equipment
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2012-10; B08142012
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division