LODD Anniversary: Pennsylvania Firefighter Killed in Canopy Collapse

Canopy falls on firefighters at a garage fire.
Canopy post-collapse, side D. Note failed metal support rods and turn-buckles. (NIOSH/fire marshal’s office photo)

Remember the fallen with the lessons learned

NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

On February 4, 2007, a 27-year-old male career fire fighter (the victim) and a 38-year-old male career fire fighter were trapped under a canopy which collapsed off of a burning residential garage.

The victim was pinned under the canopy debris, and was found not breathing while still wearing his SCBA and SCBA mask. The second fire fighter received injuries requiring time off from work.

Read the Report:
Career Fire Fighter Dies When Trapped by Collapsed Canopy during a Two Alarm Attached Garage Fire

As the fire fighters pulled the hoseline from the garage, the canopy, which was connected to the garage roof rafters by long metal bars, fell on both fire fighters, trapping them underneath.

The designated rapid intervention team (who had just arrived on-scene) worked for approximately 10 minutes to extricate both fire fighters.

The victim and injured fire fighter were sent to the local hospital by ground ambulance.

The victim was pronounced dead at the hospital, and the injured fire fighter was treated for injuries requiring time off from work.

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

  • review and follow existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for structural fire fighting to ensure that fire fighters follow a “2 in 2 out” policy
  • ensure that adequate numbers of staff are available to immediately respond to emergency incidents
  • establish a collapse zone when structures become unstable
  • ensure that the Incident Commander continuously evaluates the risks versus gain when determining whether the fire suppression operation will be offensive or defensive
  • ensure that the first arriving company officer does not become involved in the fire fighting effort after assuming the role of the Incident Commander
  • ensure that a thermal imaging camera is used during size-up
  • ensure that a separate Incident Safety Officer, independent from the Incident Commander, is appointed at each structural fire

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