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Fire fighter suffers sudden cardiac death while performing driver/operator duties at a residential structure fire - New Jersey.

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 F2012-21, 2013 Jan; :1-14
On January 19, 2012, a 58-year-old male volunteer driver/operator ("the D/O") and his fire department (FD) were dispatched at 1335 hours to a residential structure fire as part of a mutual aid program with a neighboring fire department. The D/O's FD was assigned as the rapid intervention team (RIT). At the scene, the D/O removed equipment from the RIT's rescue truck and straightened out kinks in the fire attack hoseline and then staged inside the rescue truck. A short while later, a bystander found the D/O slumped over the steering wheel and notified on-scene fire fighters. On-scene ambulance paramedics removed the D/O from the truck and found him to be unresponsive, not breathing, and without a pulse. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced life support were begun. The D/O was transported at 1431 hours and arrived at the local hospital's emergency department (ED) at 1435 hours. Inside the ED, despite continuing cardiac resuscitation efforts, the D/O was pronounced dead at 1500 hours, and resuscitation efforts were stopped. The death certificate and the autopsy report completed by the county medical examiner listed "sudden death due to combined effects of hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and aortic valve stenosis" as the cause of death with polycystic kidney disease a contributing factor. Additional findings included coronary artery disease, cardiomegaly (enlarged heart), and left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). Given the D/O's history of heart disease, NIOSH investigators concluded that the physical stress of responding to the call and straightening the hoseline may have triggered his sudden cardiac death. NIOSH investigators offer the following recommendations to address safety and health issues and prevent similar incidents in the future. 1. Provide preplacement and annual medical evaluations to all fire fighters consistent with NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments. 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. 2. Phase in a mandatory comprehensive wellness and fitness program for fire fighters. 3. Perform a candidate and an annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluation for all members. 4. Provide fire fighters with medical clearance to wear a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) as part of the fire department's medical evaluation program.
Region-2; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Cardiovascular-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disease; Cardiovascular-system-disorders; Physical-fitness; Medical-screening; Physical-stress
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2012-21; B20130124
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