OSHA Fines Ore. Fire Department $50K in Fire That Claimed Three Firefighters

There were breakdowns in the communication between firefighters attacking the fatal November fire that killed three Coos Bay firefighters, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division said Friday.


There were breakdowns in the communication between firefighters attacking the fatal November fire that killed three Coos Bay firefighters, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division said Friday.

There was a failure to immediately establish a command structure at the fire scene.

There was a failure to obey a "two-in, two-out" rule that requires firefighters to be suited up and waiting outside a burning structure while two others are inside.

In all, OSHA's nearly six-month investigation was capped Friday by a finding of 16 violations of federal safety standards, 13 of them classified as serious. The findings resulted in $50,450 in fines against the city of Coos Bay.

Fire Chief Stan Gibson, praised in November for quickly identifying the smoldering blaze at the Farwest Truck & Auto Supply store, took the brunt of OSHA's criticism without visible emotion Friday morning. He had perhaps saved four lives in November by ordering the building evacuated when he noticed the roof of the building was turning spongy during the early stages of the fight.

Fire Department Violations Cited in OHSA Report

The following report was complied from Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division information released Friday. The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division identified 16 violations of federal safety standards following an investigation into the deaths of three firefighters who perished battling a November blaze. Thirteen were considered serious violations. OSHA levied $50,450 in fines against the city.

The violations include:

The incident management system did not meet the requirements of the National Fire Protection Association standards. Several standards were believed to have been violated, including breakdowns in communication and the absence of a Rapid Intervention Team inside the building.
Total penalty: $7,000.

At least two firefighters were not situated outside the building, ready to set up an emergency rescue.
Total penalty: $5,000.

Not all firefighters at the scene were being actively tracked by a personnel accountability system.
Total penalty: $5,000.

Employees did not receive annual tests to ensure that respirator facepieces supplied to them were tight fitting. Eight elements comprise this violation for each employee affected.
Total penalty: $13,000.

A respirator was not used in a dangerous situation when one firefighter went onto the roof without one.
Total penalty: $2,500.

The city did not ensure that each employee could use a respirator effectively during an emergency.
Total penalty: $5,000.

Medical evaluations were not provided to determine employees' ability to wear a respirator.
Total penalty: $1,500.

Employees required to wear respirators were not regularly consulted to identify problems or assess program effectiveness.
Total penalty: $1,250.

Written respiratory protection program did not include all federally required elements.
Total penalty: $500.

Repair and maintenance of respiratory equipment was not performed according to manufacturer's recommendation.
Total penalty: $1,500.

Respirators used in emergency situations were not inspected daily.
Total penalty: $500.

The program administrator overseeing a respiratory protection program did not have the appropriate qualifications.
Total penalty: $500.

The 24 volunteer firefighters had not received physical assessments within the past year.
Total penalty: $7,200.

Three additional violations were identified by OSHA. They were classified as "other than serious" and do not carry a monetary penalty. All 16 violations described are alleged and are subject to formal and informal appeals.

Standing among a small press crowd gathered on a landing outside Coos Bay City Hall, where OSHA officials set up a folding table and an American flag, Gibson made no comments and issued no appeals to OSHA's findings. Instead, he listened, stoically, to the report.

This content continues onto the next page...