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Volunteer fire chief struck and killed on interstate highway while directing traffic - Pennsylvania.

Wertman SC
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 F2013-12, 2014 Apr; :1-15
On April 27, 2013, a 45-year-old male volunteer fire chief (the victim) lost his life after being struck by a vehicle on an interstate highway. The victim had shut down the highway with his personal vehicle and was directing traffic onto an exit ramp. The victim's department was dispatched to assist a neighboring fire department working a motor vehicle incident. The victim's department was ordered by the incident commander to shut down both southbound travel lanes to allow for an aeromedical helicopter to land on the interstate. The victim responded to the scene in his personal vehicle, used it to block the southbound travel lanes, and diverted approaching traffic onto an off-ramp. A motorist, allegedly under the influence, drove around the victim's vehicle, striking and killing him. The victim was not wearing a high-visibility retro-reflective vest and a traffic incident management area (TIMA) had not been established. Contributing Factors: 1. Victim working in unprotected travel lane. 2. Lack of advanced warning to oncoming traffic. 3. Inconspicuousness of victim and vehicle. 4. Alleged impaired motorist. Key Recommendations: 1. Fire departments should ensure that emergency responders receive training and have adequate staffing, sufficient equipment, and appropriate procedures in place for responding to roadway emergency incidents. 2. Fire departments should ensure that standard operating procedures/guidelines include guidance on identifying and maintaining a safe location while working in or near moving traffic. 3. Fire departments should establish pre-incident plans and agreements regarding traffic control and incident management at roadway incidents with other fire departments, EMS, law enforcement, local or state departments of highways, and private sector responders. 4. Fire departments should ensure that apparatus equipped with high-visibility chevrons and reflective markings are used for blocking to enhance conspicuity and protection of emergency scenes while operating at highway incidents. 5. Fire departments should ensure that all personnel working at highway incidents wear the appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment, to include high-visibility retro-reflective material. 6. Motorists should be attentive at all times, especially when approaching and driving through a traffic incident management area, so that they avoid striking emergency responders, other vehicles, or traffic control devices.
Region-3; Fire-fighters; Injury-prevention; Accident-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Emergency-responders; Safety-practices; Work-practices; Motor-vehicles; Training; Emergency-responders; Protective-clothing; Protective-measures; Personal-protection; Personal-protective-equipment; Injuries; Accidents; Surveillance
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-F2013-12; M052014
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