Remember the fallen with the
NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program
On July 24, 2010, a 40-year-old male career lieutenant (Victim #1) and a 49-year-old male career fire fighter (Victim #2) were found unresponsive at a residential structure fire. The victims and two additional crew members were tasked with conducting a primary search for civilians and fire extension on the 3rd floor of a multifamily residential structure.
The fire had been extinguished on the 2nd floor upon their entry into the structure. While pulling walls and the ceiling on the 3rd floor, smoke and heat conditions changed rapidly.
Victim #1 transmitted a Mayday (audibly under duress) that was not acknowledged or acted upon. Minutes later the incident commander ordered an evacuation of the 3rd floor.
As a fire fighter exited the 3rd floor, Victim #1 was discovered unconscious and not breathing, sitting on the stairs to the 3rd floor.
Approximately 7 minutes later, Victim #2 was discovered on the 3rd floor in thick, black smoke conditions. Both victims were removed by the rapid intervention team (RIT) and other fire fighters who assisted them.
Both victims were pronounced dead at local hospitals.
- Failure to effectively monitor and respond to Mayday transmissions
- Less than effective Mayday procedures and training
- Inadequate air management
- Removal and/or dislodgement of self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) facepiece
- Incident safety officer (ISO) and rapid intervention team (RIT) not readily available on scene
- Possible underlying medical condition(s) (coronary artery disease)
- Command, control, and accountability.
- Ensure that radio transmissions are effectively monitored and quickly acted upon, especially when a Mayday is called
- Ensure that Mayday training program(s) and department procedures adequately prepare fire fighters to call a Mayday
- Train fire fighters in air management techniques to ensure they receive the maximum benefit from their SCBA
- Ensure that fire fighters use their SCBA during all stages of a fire and are trained in SCBA emergency procedures
- Ensure that a separate incident safety officer (ISO), independent from the incident commander, is appointed at each structure fire with the initial dispatch
- Ensure that a rapid intervention team (RIT) is readily available and prepared to respond to fire fighter emergencies
- Consider adopting a comprehensive wellness and fitness program, provide annual medical evaluations consistent with NFPA standards, and perform annual physical performance (physical ability) evaluations for all fire fighters.