NIOSH has released two investigative reports. One involved the electrocution of a Pennsylvania firefighter in a bucket, while the other was a wall collapse in Texas that claimed a chief.
On Jan. 6, 2008, Scranton Firefighter James L. Robeson, 40, was electrocuted when his neck and back came into contact with a power line. The other firefighter in the bucket was injured as well, and taken to a local hospital.
NIOSH investigators concluded several factors led to the fatal incident:
- firefighter proximity to energized power lines
- suboptimal incident command
- absence of relevant standard operating procedures
- absence of specific periodic training
- heightened sense of urgency given civilian occupants
- lack of verification of the power line energy state
They recommended that all departments should develop and enforce SOGs for all operations including working near overhead power lines.
They also said a safety officer needs to be assigned to every incident.
The entire report can be viewed Here.
The other probe involved the death of a Teague Fire Chief Robert Knight.
He was at a fire at a body shop when a brick parapet wall collapsed, and buried him under debris. The chief was transported to a local trauma center where he died a few hours later.
Contributing factors in this fatal mishap were listed as failure to conduct a 360-degree size-up of the incident site, failure to recognize the potential collapse hazard, inadequate staffing, and inadequate fire ground communications.
NIOSH investigators released the following recommendations:
- ensure the Incident Commander conducts a complete 360-degree size-up of the incident scene including evaluating the potential for structural collapse
- establish and monitor a collapse zone when conditions indicate the potential for structural collapse
- train all fire fighting personnel in the risks and hazards related to structural collapse
- ensure that the Incident Commander maintains the role of director of fire ground operations and does not become involved in fire fighting efforts
- ensure that the Incident Commander conducts an initial size-up and risk assessment of the incident scene before beginning fire fighting operations and continuously re-evaluates the situation
- ensure that adequate numbers of staff are available to effectively respond to emergency incidents
- ensure that tactical operations are coordinated and communicated to everyone on the fire ground
- ensure that every fire fighter on the fireground has a portable radio with sufficient tactical frequencies to effectively communicate on the fire ground
- ensure that a separate Incident Safety Officer, independent from the Incident Commander, is appointed at each structure fire