NIOSH Releases Probe of Illinois LODD

When a 45-year-old Illinois firefighter was hit and killed by a brush truck last December, he wasn’t wearing a reflective vest, a turnout coat and wasn’t using a flashlight.

Those were among the findings of NIOSH investigators who released their probe of the incident that killed Timothy P. Jansen, a volunteer with Santa Fe Volunteer Fire Protection District.

NIOSH investigators noted that Jansen was directing the driver in backing the brush truck up a steep incline when he was hit after he apparently fell or slipped. 

When the second apparatus arrived, they noticed a commotion involving bystanders, and quickly realized one of their own had been struck. There were no witnesses to Jansen actually being hit.

Jansen was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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Among the contributing factors noted by NIOSH investigators included:

  • Narrow un-even road surface
  • Dark, poorly-lit conditions with fire burning behind the victim
  • Victim was not wearing an adequate amount of hi-visibility retro-reflective clothing
  • A flashlight or other signaling device not used

Following interviews and a probe of department policies, NIOSH made the following recommendations:

  • Fire departments should ensure that all fire fighters are trained in and recognize the importance of situational awareness
  • Fire departments should ensure that all fire fighters wear the appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment, including high visibility clothing that meets the requirements of NFPA 1500 and NFPA 1971
  • Fire departments and authorities having jurisdiction should consider retiring and replacing fire apparatus after they have reached 25 years of age
  • Fire departments and authorities having jurisdiction should be aware of programs that provide assistance in obtaining alternative funding, such as grant funding, to replace or purchase fire apparatus and equipment.
  • Fire departments, authorities having jurisdiction and apparatus manufacturers should consider evaluating and equipping older fire apparatus and vehicles with current safety equipment to assist drivers during backing operations (e.g., rear view video cameras, automatic sensing devices, additional mirrors, etc.).
  • Fire departments should ensure that standard operating procedures regarding the safe backing of fire apparatus are in place and enforced.