Near-Miss, Weekly Report: Wheel Chock Mishap

"...A firefighter performing monthly [maintenance] on [the center] engine remained in the engine room on a creeper...We broke for lunch...the firefighter resumed his under carriage maintenance. At this time, the engineer decided to back up the engine from the front apron. The fireman under the center engine experienced a loud bang at his head area..."

Our theme this week continues with the hazards of the seemingly mundane. Every department's apparatus maintenance program involves moving apparatus in and out of quarters. The placement of wheel chocks is a nationally recognized best practice. It is also routine for crews to break during the work for meals, emergency calls, personal telephone calls or a host of other interruptions.

Report 05-633 describes what could have resulted in a fatal event during one of the most routine of station activities. Apparatus maintenance requires full time and attention. Any break in the work cycle should have a brief re-orientation before personnel return to work.

As this week's featured report illustrates, the last place for distraction or forgetfulness is while you and your colleagues are moving in and around 20 to 30 tons of aluminum and steel. Reports 05-199 and 05-371 recount related incidents that also occurred during apparatus maintenance. If you have had a similar experience, take fifteen minutes and submit your report to www.firefighternearmiss.com so other firefighters can learn from your experience.

After reviewing 05-633, 05-199 and 05-371, consider the following questions:

  1. Do you remind members (or are you reminded by your officer) to re-check the positions of valves, levers and safety devices before re-starting interrupted apparatus maintenance?
  2. Where does your department require wheel chocks be placed; forward of the front wheels or forward of the rear wheels?
  3. What would have happened to the wheel chock in 05-633 if it had been placed forward of the front wheel?"
  4. What safety instructions do you give crew members before beginning apparatus maintenance?
  5. Is the officer of the group a participant in the maintenance program? If so, what safeguards are in place to provide safety oversight of the activity?

Report Number: 05-0000633

Report Date: 11/27/2005 17:43

Event Description

During morning equipment check, an engineer moved an engine from the bay out onto the apron in front of the station. A chock block (wheel chock) was placed in front of the rear dual. There's a 3 engine bay. The rig was originally to the extreme right in the bay. A firefighter performing a monthly on a second engine remained in the engine room on a creeper underneath the center engine. We broke for lunch and the firefighter resumed his under carriage maintenance. At this time, the engineer decided to back up the engine from the front apron. The fireman under the center engine experienced a loud bang at his head area and the creeper almost came out from under him leaving him half on and half off. Evidently, the engineer failed to remove the chock block from the rear duals. The front tire of the engine went up on the chock block pinching it sideways at an angle, shooting it across the engine room floor. The chock block completely sheared off the metal wheel inches from the fireman’s head. Neither man knew what had happened initially aside from a loud crashing noise of the projectiles. The fireman other then shaken by the near miss was not injured but the relationship with the engineer never resumed as it was.

Lessons Learned

Demographics

Department type: Paid Municipal

Job or rank: Fire Fighter

Department shift: 24 hours on - 24 hours off

Age: 43 - 51

Years of fire service experience: 24 - 26

Region: FEMA Region IX

Event Information

Event type: On-duty activities: apparatus and station maintenance, meetings, tours, etc.

Event date and time: 09/12/1988 00:00

Hours into the shift: 5 - 8

Event participation: Witnessed event but not directly involved in the event

Do you think this will happen again? Yes

What do you believe caused the event?

  • Human Error
  • Situational Awareness
  • Individual Action
  • Procedure
  • SOP / SOG

What do you believe is the loss potential?

  • Life threatening injury
  • Property damage

Firehouse.com is working with the National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System to get the word out about previous fire fighter near-miss incidents. Each week, Firehouse.com will publish the Fire Fighter Near-Miss Report of the Week (ROTW). If you would like to receive the ROTW, please e-mail: nearmiss@iafc.org with "subscribe-FHC" in the subject line. If you have had a similar experience and would like to report it and to learn more about the program, please visit: www.firefighternearmiss.com.

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