The veteran fire instructor who died during a live burn at the Pennsylvania state fire academy in 2005 was wearing a damaged SCBA face piece, federal investigators have concluded.
Capt. Robert Gallardy, 47, who had been igniting pallets on fire in the basement of the burn building, was discovered by three students.
Gallardy died two days later of thermal burns.
NIOSH authorities noted in a report released Wednesday that Gallardy's face piece had a heat damaged lens. Two others found at the training academy also had similar flaws.
"Face pieces in this condition need to be removed from service," officials said, adding that the academy did not have written respiratory protection program.
The investigators also noted that another instructor was concerned when Gallardy emerged from the basement after setting the fire, and encouraged him to get out and take a break.
After remarking about how hot the fire was, Gallardy went back into the basement to add pallets to the fire and await the students for the final scenario of the day. The three firefighters said they called a Mayday after hearing someone moan.
They also wondered if it was part of the grand finale scenario. But, they suddenly realized it wasn't.
The NIOSH recommendations include
- ensure that two training officers are present with a charged hoseline during the ignition or refueling of a training fire in accordance with NFPA 1403.
- determine the minimum amount of flame, heat and/or smoke required during live fire evolutions to perform the training while ensuring fire fighter safety.
- use the minimum fuel load necessary to conduct live fire training.
- have a written respiratory protection program and ensure that self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs) face pieces are properly inspected, used, and maintained.
- have burn rooms with at least two exits.
- avoid having basement burn rooms.
The full report can be viewed at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/reports/face200531.html