Remember the fallen with the
NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program
On September 5, 1998, a total of four fire departments (three volunteer and one career) were dispatched to fight a warehouse fire that housed recycled paper. The warehouse was built around the late 1800s of brick masonry frame with heavy wood truss construction.
The first arriving Engine Company Chief (volunteer) observed smoke issuing from below the eaves at the rear of the structure and made the decision not to enter the structure, but to surround and drown.
When the Engine 3 crew arrived (career), they were ordered to position their Engine at the north end of the structure and attack from the exterior of the structure.
One of the fire fighters from Engine 3 approached the structure to open the large barn-like doors to enable the fire fighters to attack from the exterior. The fire fighter then returned to the hose line and discovered the doors had closed behind him (self-closing doors).
He was returning to re-open the doors to prop them open, when without warning, the parapet wall above the doors suddenly collapsed on him.
The NIOSH investigator concluded that to prevent similar incidents, fire departments should:
- ensure that pre-fire planning and inspections cover all structural building materials/components and exterior walls
- should establish a collapse zone around buildings that have parapet walls that could collapse