LODD Anniversary: Wyoming Firefighters Killed in Smoke Explosion at Townhouse Fire

Two Wisconsin firefighters were killed in an explosion while searching for children reported to be on the second floor.
Rear view of structure. (NIOSH photo)

Remember the fallen with the lessons learned

NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program

On April 18, 2005, a 23-year-old male volunteer fire fighter (Victim #1) and a 39-year-old male volunteer Assistant Lieutenant (Victim #2) died after a smoke explosion at a town house complex.

Both victims were in the first apparatus to arrive on the scene and were advised that there were children inside on the second floor of the fire unit. The victims made entry into the structure and proceeded to the second floor with a charged hoseline.

Read the Report:
A Volunteer Fire Fighter and Volunteer Assistant Lieutenant Die After a Smoke Explosion at a Town House Complex

Within minutes, Victim #2 returned to the front door to request a thermal imaging camera and returned to the second floor just as another crew prepared to provide back-up.

As the back-up crew entered the front door an explosion occurred forcing them back down the porch stairs and entrapping the victims in the bedroom on the second floor.

The fire, which intensified after the explosion, had to be knocked down before the victims could be recovered.

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

  • develop and enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) for structural fire fighting that include, but are not limited to, the incident command system, accountability, ventilation, and emergency evacuation
  • ensure that the Incident Commander completes a size-up of the incident and continuously evaluates the risk versus benefit during the entire operation
  • ensure that adequate numbers of staff are available to immediately respond to emergency incidents
  • ensure that the Incident Commander maintains the role of director of fireground operations and does not become directly involved in firefighting operations
  • ensure that the Incident Commander is clearly identified as the only individual with overall authority for management of all activities at an incident
  • ensure that fire fighters are trained to identify truss roof systems and their potential hazards

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