On March 15, 2017, an 80-year-old male volunteer deputy chief and a 53-year-old female volunteer fire fighter died, and a 43-year-old male volunteer fire fighter was injured while operating at an incident scene where a dump truck was tangled in downed telephone lines.
The fire fighters were struck by a hit-and-run driver. Both the deputy chief and female fire fighter were pronounced dead at the incident scene. At 1701 hours, the fire department was dispatched to a report of a dump truck pulling down power lines and the power was out in the area. The dump truck actually pulled down telephone lines when they became entangled around the bed of the dump truck. Due to the force of the telephone lines being pulled down, this caused power lines to arc which caused a power outage. At 1719 hours, the deputy chief arrived on scene in Rescue 1. The fire chief and the male fire fighter responded in the fire chief’s POV. The female fire fighter arrived in her POV several minutes after Rescue 1 arrived. The city’s police department also responded and was on scene. The fire fighters provided traffic control at the scene. At approximately 1805 hours, the dump truck left the scene. A power company representative and a power company crew were still on scene. At approximately 1810 hours, the city police officers cleared the scene.
At approximately 1816 hours, the fire chief went to meet with the power company representative to determine if the fire department was still needed. At 1818 hours, a vehicle went through the area where the three fire fighters were standing. The area was off the roadway at the fork between a state road and county road. The vehicle struck the deputy chief first. He was thrown onto the vehicle, pushing the windshield inward and collapsing the roof of the car near the “A” Post. He was carried approximately 125 feet before he fell off the vehicle onto the roadway. The female fire fighter was struck and thrown approximately 60 feet and landed in the roadway. The other fire fighter was struck and knocked to the ground near where he was standing.
The power company employee was facing the fire fighters and witnessed the incident. The fire chief witnessed the vehicle striking the fire fighters and watched the vehicle leave the scene. The fire chief immediately notified the county fire dispatcher of the incident and a description of vehicle, then went to check on the three fire fighters. The fire chief advised the dispatcher that two fire fighters were deceased and one fire fighter was injured. The county dispatch center dispatched law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services to the scene.
At 1838 hours, Medic 2 arrived on scene, the paramedic from Medic 2 pronounced the two fire fighters deceased. Advanced life support (ALS) care was initiated on the injured fire fighter. Medic 2 transported the injured fire fighter to the local trauma center at 1856 hours. Medic 2 arrived at the trauma center at 1916 hours. The fire fighter was treated and released the following day.
- Alleged impaired civilian driver
- Lack of an incident action plan
- Inadequate temporary traffic control zone
- Lack of traffic incident management
- Lack of SOPs/SOGs on Traffic Incident Management (Ladder company searching for fire beyond protection of hose stream)
- Lack of training on highway/roadway traffic incident management
- Fire departments should develop pre-incident plans regarding deployment for highway/roadway incidents. These pre-incident plans should include establishing a temporary traffic control zone, maintaining scene safety, ensuring situational awareness, and proper traffic control for highway/roadway emergency work zones.
- Fire departments should ensure that all members receive training for conducting traffic incident management during emergency operations at highway/roadway incidents
- Fire departments should ensure that a continuous scene size-up is conducted and risks are continuously assessed and managed throughout a highway/roadway incident.