Occupational Safety Rules Not Violated in N.C. LODD

The Asheville Fire Department did not violate any occupational safety rules at a building fire last summer that claimed the life of a firefighter.

But, the N.C. Department of Labor inspectors said more could be done to avoid future tragedies, the Citizens-Times reported Thursday.

Asheville Firefighter Jeff Bowen, 37, went into cardiac arrest and died while battling the blaze in a medical office building. Ten other firefighters were hurt.

The fire department should improve training to ensure a better system of accounting for personnel during a fire, state investigators said.

And the department’s Rapid Intervention Team should have more specific assignments and responsibilities along with the equipment needed to handle crises, they said.

“These are things the fire department can do to go beyond the requirements of the standards to improve the safety and health of its employees,” Labor Department spokesman Neal O’Briant said.

Fire Chief Scott Burnette on Wednesday accepted the recommendations without dispute, noting the department already had been working to improve in the areas suggested by the Labor Department.

“We certainly could have done better,” Burnette said. “Jeff not coming home is not acceptable. Every member of our department is committed to continually improving our department.”