Uncategorized

NIOSH Line-of-Duty Death Report

Issue 5 and Volume 3.

SUMMARY

On Aug. 13, 2006, a 55-year-old male career engineer died and another firefighter was injured after falling through the floor at a residential structure fire.

The victim and firefighter had arrived in their ambulance and assisted the first-due engine in attaching a 5″ supply line at approximately 1227 hrs. The engine company was conducting a fast attack on a suspected basement fire, while a ladder company conducted horizontal ventilation. The ambulance crew had advanced to the front of the structure when the incident commander requested they conduct a primary search.

The victim and firefighter proceeded to conduct a left-hand search at approximately 1234 hrs. They took a couple of steps to the left just inside the front door to conduct a quick sweep. Visibility was near zero with minimal heat conditions. Because of the smoke conditions, they kneeled, sounded the ceramic tile floor and took one crawling step on their knees.

They heard a large crack just before the floor gave way, sending them into the basement. The basement area exploded into a fireball when the floor collapsed. The victim fell into the room of origin, while the injured firefighter fell on the other side of a basement door into a hallway.

The injured firefighter was able to eventually crawl out of a basement window. The victim was recovered the next day.

CAUSE OF DEATH

The medical examiner listed the cause of death as smoke inhalation and thermal burns. The injured firefighter suffered first-degree burns to approximately 15 percent of her back and upper arms, and she also suffered a fractured hip and ribs.

RECOMMENDATIONS

NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:

  • Conduct pre-incident planning and inspections of buildings within their jurisdictions to facilitate development of safe fireground strategies and tactics;
  • Use a thermal imaging camera during the initial size-up and search phases of a fire; and
  • Ensure firefighters are trained to recognize the danger of operating above a fire and to identify buildings constructed with trusses.

Additionally, building code officials and local authorities having jurisdiction should consider modifying the current building codes to require that lightweight trusses be protected with a fire barrier on both the top and bottom.

Uncategorized

NIOSH Line-of-Duty Death Report

Issue 3 and Volume 2.

SUMMARY

On August 28, 2005, a 50-year-old male volunteer firefighter/rescue diver died after drowning during a fire department-sponsored night-dive training exercise at a quarry.

The victim had performed a total of three training dives on Aug. 27, as is required for Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certifications for advanced open-water diver and night diver. After the students completed the exercises for the night dive, they were instructed to perform a partner dive. During the partner dive, the victim’s partner reportedly signaled to him that he wanted to surface, and the victim signaled back “OK, let’s surface.” After the partner surfaced, he looked around and did not see the victim. The partner reportedly looked down and saw the victim still below him waving his light from side to side in a distress motion. The partner dove back down and found that the victim did not have his regulator in his mouth. The partner tried to donate his alternate air source, but at that point the victim’s underwater flashlight dropped, and he went limp. The partner brought him to the surface and yelled for help.

At this time the master scuba diver instructing the course and his partner were below the surface on the partner dive in another part of the quarry. A second dive instructor and a diver on shore unrelated to the training heard the calls for help and immediately went to provide assistance. The victim was towed to shore and given cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. The divers then called 911, and an ambulance arrived within 15 minutes. The victim was transported to a local hospital, where he died the following day.

 

CAUSE OF DEATH

The coroner listed the cause of death as drowning.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire/rescue departments should:

  • Develop, implement and enforce standard operating procedures or protocols regarding diver training;
  • Ensure that each diver maintains continuous visual, verbal or physical contact with their dive partner;
  • Ensure that a backup diver and a 90-percent ready diver are in position to render assistance; and
  • Ensure that positive communication is established among all divers and personnel who remain on the surface.