LODD Anniversary: Virginia Firefighter Dies After Being Ejected in Crash

Crash site. (NIOSH/easternshorefire.com photo)

Remember the fallen with lessons learned

NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

On July 16, 2012, a 30-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (victim) died after being ejected from a fire engine. The victim, riding in the right front seat, was responding on Engine 6-5 with one other fire fighter (the driver) to a reported motor vehicle crash.

Read the Report:
Volunteer Fire Fighter Dies After Being Ejected From Front Seat of Engine

The fire engine traveled approximately 1.3 miles from the station when the driver lost control of the engine in a curve. The engine left the paved road and crashed into trees on the right side of the roadway.

The victim was ejected from the engine and landed in a wooded area (see Photo 1 and Photo 2). The driver of Engine 6-5 exited through the windshield, located the victim, and began medical treatment.

Other emergency personnel responded to the scene, and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Contributing Factors:

  • Narrow roadway with minimal shoulder in a curve
  • Loss of control of the vehicle (right wheels left the paved surface)
  • Non-use of seat belt
  • Inadequate SOPs for seat belt usage
  • Inadequate driver training

Key Recommendations:

  • Fire departments should ensure that fire department drivers/operators are trained in techniques for maintaining control of their vehicles at all times.
  • Fire departments should ensure that written standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding seat belt use are established and enforced.
  • Fire departments should provide and ensure all drivers successfully complete a comprehensive driver’s training program, such as NFPA 1451 Standard for a Fire Service Vehicle Operations Training Program, before allowing a member to drive and operate a fire department vehicle.
  • Fire departments should ensure that apparatus are regularly inspected and checked, recording water levels of engines, tankers, and other vehicles with water tanks.
  • Fire departments should develop and implement fire apparatus inspection and check-off sheets and provide a systematic approach for the communicating, receiving, filing, and storage of these as well as maintenance records.

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