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Career captain injured in aerial ladder collapse - Pennsylvania.

Bowyer ME; Peters W
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 F2012-04, 2012 Aug; :1-13
On January 8, 2012, a career fire department in Pennsylvania received an alarm of a structure fire in the downtown area. One engine and one 1975 rear-mount, 100-foot aerial ladder responded to the call. Upon arrival, a working fire was confirmed in a 2 story frame auto repair/parts shop. The engine wrapped a 5-inch large-diameter hose around the hydrant and proceeded to the area in front of the fire building. The ladder truck driver completed the connection at the hydrant and charged the line. The engine captain began attacking the fire with a pre-connected master stream device from the street. The ladder truck driver then pulled forward but was careful not to run over the 5-inch supply line to the engine. Both apparatus were on the far side of the street, away from the collapse zone. The ladder truck driver set-up the truck and prepared for ladder pipe operations. The aerial was raised, rotated towards the building and extended with the ladder pipe. The turntable operator attempted to apply water to the fire by rotating the turntable to direct the stream right and left. This operation went on for approximately ten minutes. The captain left his position at the master stream and approached the turntable operator. He stated that the aerial stream was not hitting the fire and he was going to climb the ladder and manually operate the ladder pipe. The captain donned a safety belt, the ladder operator applied the manual rung lock, and the captain began climbing the ladder. When he reached the fly section the tip bounced then twisted to the left. He continued climbing and as he reached the tip, the ladder continued twisting to the left and the three sections beyond the bed ladder section began to slowly collapse. The collapse accelerated and the ladder struck the ground with the captain clinging to it. Several fire fighters rushed to assist the captain. The turntable operator went to the engine and shut down the ladder pipe hose line. The captain was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Contributing Factors: 1. Lack of fire department standard operating procedures for aerial apparatus; 2. Positioning of the aerial apparatus for fireground operations; 3. Limited performance capabilities of the aerial apparatus; 4. Overloaded aerial ladder; Key Recommendations: 1. Ensure that a standard operating procedure (SOP) addressing the safe operation, including placement of the aerial apparatus on the fireground, is developed and implemented; 2. Ensure that a structured training program for aerial apparatus operation is implemented that addresses the safe operation and fireground positioning of the apparatus; 3. Ensure that all safety indicators are monitored and followed while operating the aerial; 4. Ensure that the manufacturer's apparatus manuals are retained for reference; 5. Ensure that operators of aerial apparatus are familiar with the operating characteristics and performance capabilities and in particular, are aware of the potential danger of collapse while operating at low angles and long extensions, especially if the aerial was built prior to 1991 NFPA standards; 6. Ensure that aerial devices are inspected and load tested regularly by qualified testing companies in accordance with a preventative maintenance SOP; 7. Consider placing apparatus built prior to 1991 into reserve status and replacing apparatus that approach 25 years old; 8. Ensure that fire fighters are empowered to report and stop unsafe practices or activities.
Region-3; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting-equipment; Motor-vehicles; Safety-practices; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Emergency-responders; Work-practices; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2012-04; B09262012
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