NIOSH Releases Report on Pennsylvania LODD

WASHINGTON, Penn.-- NIOSH investigators suggest departments obey the "two in, two out" policy and that a collapse zone is established when a structure becomes unstable.

Those were among several recommendations NIOSH has issued following the probe of a Feb. 4, 2007 incident in which a Pennsylvania firefighter was killed.

Washington City Firefighter Jeremy LaBella, 27, was killed when a canopy collapsed on him. A fellow firefighter was injured.

It was LaBella's first working fire as a career firefighter.

Investigators determined LaBella and George McMullen, 38, had backed out of the burning building due to conditions. However, they remained under the canopy.

A civilian who witnessed the collapse notified the chief of the incident, and that two firefighters were trapped in the debris. The RIT team was just arriving when the incident occured, and were met by two other residents.

NIOSH recommendations include:

  • review and follow existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) for structural firefighting to ensure that fire fighters follow a "two in, two out" policy
  • ensure that adequate numbers of staff are available to immediately respond to emergency incidents
  • establish a collapse zone when structures become unstable
  • ensure that the Incident Commander continuously evaluates the risks versus gain when determining whether the fire suppression operation will be offensive or defensive
  • ensure that the first arriving company officer does not become involved in the fire fighting effort after assuming the role of the Incident Commander
  • ensure that a thermal imaging camera is used during size-up
  • ensure that a separate Incident Safety Officer, independent from the Incident Commander, is appointed at each structural fire.

View the report Here.