NIOSH has released two investigative reports conducted following line-of-duty deaths in Texas and Georgia.
On May 28, Firefighter Felix M. Roberts, 41, was killed, and a captain injured while battling a house fire in Fulton County, Ga.
Investigators determined the two entered the burning house to rescue a resident. Suddenly, Roberts stood up and started to run. The captain ran after him and as he attempted to grab him, they fell down the stairs.
The captain suffered burns, while Roberts was in cardiac arrest when he was pulled from the house.
Investigators recommended that departments have adequate staffing before taking on an interior attack. A trained RIT team and safety officer also should be on the scene.
They also recommended increased training in incident size-up and communications.
Similar suggestions were made by NIOSH investigators who probed a fire that claimed two Texas firefighters.
In the Aug. 3 incident, Capt. Kevin Williams, 42, and Austin Cheek, 19, entered the house.
Ventilation was established, and they reported interior conditions. At one point, however, the power was turned off.
As the operation continued and communications with the captain were lost, the incident commander was asked how long the two had been inside. He replied: "Too long."
Investigators determined they had been inside 21 minutes on 30 minutes of air. They had not been heard from in 19 minutes.
Both died of smoke inhalation.
NIOSH investigators said it's essential that all firefighters have radios. The captain was the only one with a radio.
They also pointed out the importance of accountability as well as communicating operations such as ventilation.
NIOSH officials also conducted a probe into a blaze that left four Washington, D.C. firefighters hurt.
Among their recommendations were adequate training of personnel to the hazards of operating on the floor above a fire without a charged hose line, making sure firefighters know when to call for help, and supplying crews with station clothing that meets NFPA regulations.