Remember the fallen with the lessons learned
NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program
On February 9, 2007, a 29-year-old female, career probationary fire fighter died while participating in a live-fire training evolution at an acquired structure. The victim’s class was conducting a live-fire training drill that is required by the department’s training protocol for their NFPA 1001, Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications, Fire Fighter I.
The victim was part of a four person engine company, led by an adjunct instructor, that made the initial attack on a training fire in a vacant, condemned, three-story, end-unit, townhouse.
The scenario called for the victim’s crew to enter the front of the townhouse and proceed to the third floor to find and extinguish any fire on the third floor.
They were to by-pass any fire on the second floor so that the second due engine could practice suppression on that floor.
The victim’s crew encountered heavy fire on the second floor and third floor stairwell as they proceeded to the third floor. The victim, operating the nozzle, and the adjunct instructor attempted to fight fire on the third floor, but conditions made it untenable.
The adjunct instructor was able to exit through a window located on the third floor landing followed by a fire fighter who was backing up the victim on the hoseline. However, the victim got stuck attempting to exit the window which was 41-inches above the floor.
The victim became unresponsive as the adjunct instructor and other fire fighters attempted to free her from the window.
After she had been freed, she was transported to a local trauma center where she was pronounced dead.
NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire departments should:
- conduct live-fire training exercises in accordance with the most recent edition of NFPA 1403, Standard on Live-Fire Training Evolutions
- ensure all training and education, including live fire training, is conducted under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor(s) who meets the requirements of NFPA 1041, Standard for Fire Service Instructor Professional Qualifications
- provide the Training Academy and Safety Division with adequate resources, personnel, and equipment to accomplish their training mission safely
- screen recruits to ensure they meet the physical performance requirements as established by the fire department prior to entering a training program to become a fire fighter
- develop and maintain a comprehensive respiratory protection program which complies with NFPA 1404, Standard for Fire Service Respiratory Protection Training
- ensure all recruits meet the requirements of NFPA 1582, Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments prior to entering the training program
- develop an inspection criteria to ensure that all protective ensembles meet the requirements of NFPA 1851, Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Structural Fire Fighting Protective Ensembles
- ensure coordinated communication between the Instructor-in-charge and the live-fire training participants
- utilize the incident command system and a personnel accountability system, for all incidents, including live fire training exercises, that meets the requirements of NFPA 1561, Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System
- create a training atmosphere that is free from intimidation and conducive to learning
- States should develop a permitting procedure for live-fire training to be conducted at acquired structures and also ensure that all the requirements of NFPA 1403 have been met before issuing the permit