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Two volunteer fire fighters die after an explosion while attempting to extinguish a fire in a coal storage silo - South Dakota.

Tarley JL; 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 F2011-22, 2012 Sep; :1-11
On September 15, 2011 a 20-year-old male, and a 22-year-old male, both volunteer fire fighters, were killed while attempting to extinguish a fire in a coal storage silo. After removing approximately 80 of the 100 tons of coal inside the silo, the two victims attempted to extinguish the fire by applying water through an access hatch on top of the 50 foot silo. An explosion occurred destroying the silo and killing the two victims. A third fire fighter working inside the structure at the base of the silo was seriously injured. Contributing Factors: 1. Silo design; 2. Unique explosive characteristics of coal ( Bituminous, Sub-Bituminous including Powder River Basin Coal); 3. Fire fighting tactics for silo fires. Key Recommendations: 1. Fire departments should review, revise and enforce standard operating guidelines (SOGs) for structural fire fighting that address silos containing combustible particles; 2. Fire departments should train officers and fire fighters on the hazards associated with different types of silos and the appropriate fire fighting tactics including any special hazards posed by the silo contents; 3. Fire departments should ensure that pre-emergency planning is completed for all types of silos located within fire department jurisdictions. Additionally, governing municipalities, manufacturers, and designers of coal storage silos should: 1. consider requiring that placards with hazard warnings and appropriate fire fighting guidelines be placed on silos; 2. ensure that silos are constructed so that the contents flow without becoming trapped (stagnant) and to limit the introduction of air into the silo.
Region-8; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Emergency-responders; Work-practices; Safety-practices; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2011-22; B20121218A
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Public Safety
SIC Code
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