NIOSH Releases Indiana LODD Report

The investigation into the death of an Indiana firefighter in 2006 has been released by NIOSH. The June 25 blaze claimed the life of Wea Township Deputy Chief Steven Smith, 35, the first firefighter to arrive at the scene. NIOSH investigators...


The investigation into the death of an Indiana firefighter in 2006 has been released by NIOSH.

The June 25 blaze claimed the life of Wea Township Deputy Chief Steven Smith, 35, the first firefighter to arrive at the scene.

NIOSH investigators, who went to Indiana several months later to launch their probe, determined that the victim was left alone several times during the incident.

Firefighters were informed by neighbors that the single-story house was unoccupied. Once inside the front door, Smith and another firefighter immediately noticed the floor to the left had already given way, and the floor on the right was "spongy."

Smith sent the other firefighter to get a light, and perform other tasks. When the assistant chief arrived, he did not assume command.

He saw the line going down into the hole in the floor, and yelled. At first, he heard a muffled voice. However, then it was clearer. Investigators noted that it was evident that Smith had removed his face piece to speak.

One firefighter slid down into the hole before a ladder was in place. However, he was running low on air, and immediately climbed out of the basement.

Investigators determined it took about 20 minutes for Smith to be removed from the basement.

He died of carbon monoxide intoxication.

Among the recommendations include the incident commander not become involved in firefighting operations and personnel need to become familiar with various floor systems that may fail early in the event.

Read Report