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Volunteer fire fighter electrocuted by downed power line following severe weather - North Carolina.

Merinar T; 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 F2013-19, 2014 Apr; :1-24
On June 13, 2013, a 36-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (the victim) died after being electrocuted as he investigated the source of a small structure fire. The fire department was dispatched to a vehicle fire caused by an energized power line that was downed after severe weather passed through the area. The energized power line fell across the roof of a small metal storage shed, causing the wooden support structure to arc and catch fire. The victim, dressed in street clothing, walked down a rain-soaked gravel and dirt driveway and knelt down to look underneath the building where fire and smoke were emitting, and immediately fell to the ground unconscious. An eye witness reported the victim did not touch the building before he fell to the ground. Rescuers dragged the victim approximately 30 feet away and began performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and attempted to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). The victim was transported by ambulance to the local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Contributing Factors: 1. Energized power line in contact with metal building. 2. Pooling water and runoff from recent rain storm. 3. Victim not wearing any personal protective clothing or non-conductive boots. 4. Lack of situational awareness. 5. Unrecognized electrical hazards - especially on ground gradients and step potential hazards. 6. No other first responders in the immediate area at the time of the incident. Key Recommendations: 1. Fire departments should ensure that fire fighters are trained to recognize electrical shock hazards. 2. Fire departments should ensure that fire fighters wear the appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment for the hazards anticipated. 3. Fire departments should ensure that fire fighters are trained in situational awareness and to anticipate hidden hazards. 4. Fire departments and authorities having jurisdiction should consider dispatching an ambulance to all confirmed working fires and other emergency incidents.
Region-4; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Emergency-responders; Fire-fighters; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Fire-fighting; Fire-safety; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Training; Electrocutions; Electricity; Electrical-safety; Electrical-shock; Electrical-hazards; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2013-19; M042014
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Public Safety
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: April 8, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division